The Truth Behind Sippy Cups

Mom and Dad, we know how difficult bottle weaning can be, the sippy cup can become your knight and shining armor during the transition away from bottle feeding! Though convenient, sippy cups can cause cavities among toddlers during crucial development of baby teeth.

child drinking from sippy cupUnfortunately, sippy cups are becoming overused among parents due to their ability to prevent spills. Sippy cups are designed to transition your child from bottle feeding to drinking from a regular cup. With their spill-proof design, sippy cups are being used by children for extended periods of time–veering from the design of the transitional devise. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) finds that when kids sip for extended periods of time on sugared beverages, they’re exposed to a higher risk of tooth decay. Sippy cups should only contain water unless it’s mealtime! A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comparing the dental health of Americans in 1988-1994 and 1999-2002 found that while cavities decreased among older children, cavities in two- to five-year-olds actually increased 15.2 percent!

The Journal of Dentistry for Children found that one-third of toddlers with tooth decay problems used sippy cups. If left untreated, baby tooth decay can result in pain and infection. Baby teeth are important because they hold the place for permanent teeth, helping guide them into the correct position. Tooth decay among baby teeth can affect the development of permanent teeth. Though they can be detrimental to healthy baby teeth, sippy cups are not the sole culprit of baby tooth decay—children are simply not making the trip to the dentist soon enough! The AAPD recommends that initial visits to the dentist should occur after the first teeth appear, 6 months to a year.

Here are some tips for parents to prevent the presence of cavities in young children:

  • The sippy cup is a training tool to help children transition from a bottle to a cup. It shouldn’t be used for a long period of time – it’s not a bottle or a pacifier!
  • Unless being used at mealtime, the sippy cup should only be filled with water. Frequent drinking of any other liquid, even if diluted, from a bottle or no-spill training cup should be avoided.
  • Sippy cups should not be used at naptime or bedtime unless they only have water in them.
  • Let children drink sugary beverages only through a straw. Sippy cups with flexible rubber straws are okay!
  • Get children involved in dental care early on. Wipe infant and toddler’s teeth with a damp cloth once a day. By age 2, introduce brushing with a soft-bristle brush and fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Children should have regularly scheduled dental visits (every six months) beginning when the first tooth appears, but not later than their first birthday.

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