Sippy Cups and Your Child’s Teeth

sippy-cups-teethThe primary goal of having this visit so early is to prevent tooth decay.  The (ADA) American Dental Association says recommends the first dental visit to occur within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, and no later than the child’s first birthday.  As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur.  A large contributor to child tooth decay is the baby bottle and sippy cups.  This is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay.

A major  risk factors for early childhood tooth decay is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids, such as fruit juice, milk or formula, which all contain sugar.  Tooth decay can occur very rapidly when a baby is put to bed with a bottle or sippy cup.  Infants should finish their nap-time or bedtime bottle before going to bed and ideally their teeth cleaned before going to sleep.  Because decay can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child, parents should encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthdays.

Many training cups, also called “sippy cups” are popular alternatives to bottles.  Sippy cups are really baby bottles in disguise. In addition to allowing frequent and prolonged exposure to cavity causing liquids, these training cups can often be inadequate at learning how to use a real cup.  These training cups often include a valve beneath the spout to stop spills. However, cups with these valves do not allow your child to sip very easily.  As a result he child gets liquid by sucking on the cup, much like a baby bottle. This practice defeats the purpose of using a training cup, as it prevents the child from learning to sip.

Additionally, we recommend not letting your child carry the training cup around. Toddlers are often unsteady on their feet. They take an unnecessary risk if they try to walk and drink at the same time. Falling while drinking from a cup has the potential to injure the mouth.

A training cup should be used temporarily. Once your child has learned how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose. It can and should be set aside when no longer needed.

Tips for Sipping Success and Cavity-Free:

  1. Choose a valve-less cup that encourages sipping and not sucking
  2. Choose non-sugary liquids when prolonged exposure occurs (water instead of juice or milk)
  3. Limit how frequently your child sips
  4. Encourage your child not to carry the cup around

Remember to have your child see a dentist by age 1.

dentistToday’s post was written personally by Drs. David and Janna Civils. Do you have a question for either Dr. David or Dr. Janna?  We would love to hear from you!

Drs. David and Janna Civils

1114 Magnolia Street 
Greensboro, NC


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