They’re an invaluable resource for parents the world over: the sippy cup. It is an excellent way to ease the transition between baby bottles and regular drinking glasses, it’s convenient and it’s effective in preventing spills and leaks. That’s why many parents continue to use it – even after their child has clearly outgrown it.
Many pediatric dentists believe that frequent, prolonged sippy cup use can contribute to toddler tooth decay and cavities — not because of the cup itself, but by the liquids parents frequently fill it with. As a result, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents to make a “well-baby” checkup with a pediatric dentist after the first tooth has emerged. At our office, our professional team will educate parents about sippy cup use and general oral care routines, as well as provide strategies for eliminating unwanted oral habits.
Sippy cups are natural for holding sugary, decay-promoting liquids such as breast milk, baby formula, fruit juices, soda, and sweetened water. Oral bacteria feed on these sugars and produce harmful oral acids. Acids attack the tooth enamel, weakening it and rendering it susceptible to decay. Biannual appointments with a pediatric dentist are the best way to monitor the condition of your child’s teeth, and to ensure that cavities are not developing.
A sippy cup should be introduced when your child is first physically able to grasp it, but its use should be discontinued as soon as the child is old enough to use an adult-sized cup – usually at around one year of age. Children are at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first teeth emerge from the gums, making it crucial to implement a good oral care routine as early as possible. As parents, you can help reduce the risk of your baby’s cavity development by limiting his or her intake of sugary liquids in the sippy cup (substituting plain water whenever possible), and by washing the sippy cup often to eliminate germs.
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