dental problems with sippy cups

The Problem With Sippy Cups and Kid's Teeth

Most parents are well aware of the importance of taking care of their children’s teeth, so it comes as a shock when they learn their toddlers have cavities during a checkup.

Tooth decay among young children is on the rise—and many experts believe that sippy cups containing sugary beverages are responsible.

The misuse of sippy cups has become a noticeable problem in recent decades. Because sippy cups prevent spills, parents allow their children to use them for long periods of time rather than as a transitional drinking device as they were intended.

"Sippy cups were created to help children transition from a bottle to drinking from a regular cup, but they’re too often used for convenience,” says American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) President Philip H. Hunke, D.D.S., M.S.D. “When kids sip for extended periods on sugared beverages, they’re exposed to a higher risk of decay. Sippy cups should only contain water unless it’s mealtime.” In fact, 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.

Most toddlers don't go from nursing or bottle feeding to drinking from a cup overnight. There are a few things you can do to protect your child's teeth from potential sippy cup side effects:

1) Use sippy cups only at meal or snack time. Saliva production increases during a meal. This helps neutralize acid production and rinses food particles from your child's mouth.

2) Restrict use to the highchair or table. Frequent sips of sugary liquids while playing, watching TV or while falling asleep fosters tooth decay. Plus, toddlers are unsteady and may fall while holding a cup, which could cause an injury to the mouth.

3) Clean the cup after every use. Liquid can easily become trapped in the nooks and crannies of a sippy cup, leading to the growth of bacteria and mold.

4) Offer water instead of sugary fluids. If your child is thirsty in-between meals, offer a cup with water instead of a sugary fluid.

Skip sippy cups altogether. If you are compelled to use them, the best sippy cups are those without valves. These provide a slotted opening which limits liquid flow and requires your child to sip instead of suck. Consider choosing one with two handles to make grasping it easier. And don't be afraid to let your baby test drive a few different sippy cups to find the right one.

To discuss your toddler's dental care needs or ask any other questions, please contact us immediately at 513-923-1215 or fill out the appointment request form to schedule now.

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