Many well-meaning parents offer their child a sippy cup as a next step when transitioning away from breast or bottle feeding. However, skipping the sippy cup may help protect your child's teeth. Our Burnaby children's dentists explain why...
Sippy cups may appear to be a logical next step for children who have outgrown baby bottles, or are transitioning away from the breast. They can certainly be handy for preventing messy spills while young children learn to drink from a regular cup.
Nonetheless, it's important to note that while sippy cups have many advantages, allowing your child to frequently drink from sippy cups can lead to a number of dental health issues.
When a child drinks from the spout of a sippy cup, their six upper front teeth become immersed in the liquid. If the child's sippy cup contains juice, milk or any other sweet drinks then that means the child's teeth are being bathed in sugar with each sip they take. Drinking from a sippy cup frequently throughout the day, can quickly lead to your child developing tooth decay.
If left untreated, tooth decay may result in an infection and require treatment. In some cases the child's teeth may even need to be extracted.
To help prevent tooth decay, you should only allow your child to drink water from a sippy cup.
Lack of Appetite
Children who are allowed to carry their sippy cup around all day, tend to take frequent drinks between meals. This can lead lack of appetite for healthy foods at meal times. One way to avoid this problem is to only allow your child to use the sippy cup at snack times and meal times, so that they can enjoy a drink along with their food.
Delay in Speech Development
Sippy cup spouts rest on top of the child's tongue as they swallow. Frequent use of sippy cups can lead to a delay in speech development and oral motor development because the cup's spout restricts the tongue's natural movement.
To avoid dental problems stemming from the use of sippy cups, teach your child to use a straw, or drink from an open cup, when transition away from bottles or breast.
If you feel that you'd like to offer your child a sippy cup for the sake of your own sanity, we understand. Don't fret, occasional use of a sippy cup is unlikely to harm your child's dental health.