September 2017: BMSG Hosts Talk by Dr Yue Weng Cheu on Oral Development & Breastfeeding

By Melissa Anderson Kirwin, BMSG Volunteer

BMSG had the pleasure of hosting a formal speaking engagement with Dr. Yue Weng Cheu on Sunday, 17th of September. Parents of breastfed babies, breastfeeding advocates and various practitioners in the community were in attendance to hear Dr. Yue discuss the role of breastfeeding as training for the tongue and oral muscles for optimal future health.

Dr. Yue, who is the founder and clinical director of DP Dental, stated, “Everything the mouth does prepares us for life.” From the time we are in the womb, we swallow amniotic fluid. Once we are born, our mouths are integral in such critical activities as breathing, suckling, swallowing and communication. Dr. Yue discussed how the tongue is the most sensitive part of our bodies and breastfeeding is a “very intricate process” that involves many nerves and muscles working in coordination resulting in good jaw formation.

The term “Linguadontics” has been coined by Dr. Yue to define the integrative approach of practitioners of many fields in the treatment of health issues involving the tongue and other parts of the body. He sees patients with a variety of issues such as jaw pain, neck pain and sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea. His approach to treatment is rooted in the idea of suboptimal lingual and oral development earlier in life; the innate reflexes and neurological control involved in normative breastfeeding have significant influence in long-term health.

Dr. Yue pioneered laser treatment for infants in Singapore for tongue and lip ties and treats patients across a range of ages with a focus on infants and their associated feeding issues. If not treated in infancy, older children may suffer from issues such as inability to chew age appropriate solid foods or delayed development in speech.

Following Dr. Yue’s presentation, he was joined by fellow dentist, Dr. Loh Ee Ting and Kirsten Hannan, osteopath and IBCLC. This expert panel addressed a number of questions from the audience on how to balance breastfeeding and use of bottle or pacifier to promote optimal oral development; additional questions covered other breastfeeding topics including tongue and lip ties.

The talk was truly eye opening for many audience members. Eileen Ong, mother of one, said, “My biggest takeaway is about how low tongue positioning can negatively impact so many aspects of health and how we evolved to breastfeed so tongue positioning is optimised from infancy. Many of us probably chose to breastfeed knowing how our milk benefits the infant gut, and it seems like the impact breastfeeding has on a child’s oral development has been overlooked.”

Vanessa Wright, mother of two, also felt that learning about the role of the tongue was the highlight of the talk, “The tongue is more like an organ than a muscle… (and) breastfeeding is nature’s way of ensuring critical life training for the tongue.”

Breastfeeding counsellor, Tara Ghosh, who is from the Singapore chapter of La Leche League, was also supportive of Dr Yue’s work with tongue-tie release for breastfed babies, which allows them to breastfeed more effectively. “Breastfeeding and tongue tie release isn’t just good for the baby, it is the biological norm which trains the tongue to be correctly positioned and allows optimum teeth and jaw development. This in turn creates good health for life.”

From left to right: Namrata (BMSG Board Member), Dr. Loh Ee Ting (Dentist from DP dental clinic), Kirsten Hannan(Osteopath and IBCLC), Dr. Yue Weng Cheu (Clinical Director from DP dental clinic)

BMSG’s President, Elaine Chow summarized just how important this type of talk is for the breastfeeding community, “Dr Yue’s talk really helps us to understand how important breastfeeding is, in helping the mouth, jaw and tongue develop fully. This shows us that breastfeeding is really the best and most natural way for baby to feed. His treatment of tongue- and lip-tied babies also shows his support for breastfeeding mothers, who may otherwise struggle with or abandon breastfeeding due to these issues.”

BMSG’s leadership and members are truly grateful for Drs. Yue, Loh and Ms. Hannan’s time and expertise as we work to educate and support breastfeeding mothers and continue breastfeeding advocacy throughout our community.

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