Sippy cups are an excellent tool to help ease the transition between baby bottles and regular adult drinking glasses, however pediatric cavities (often called “baby bottle cavities”) are becoming increasingly prevalent in children between the ages of two and five.
How do sippy cups cause tooth decay?
Because sippy cups only emit a tiny amount of fluid at a time, the sugars in the fluids are continuously being swirled around the child’s teeth. Oral bacteria feed on these sugars and produce harmful oral acids. Acids attack the tooth enamel, weakening it and making it susceptible to decay. Sometimes cavities (caries) form between the teeth, which are hard to see.
Which sippy cup should I choose for my child?
The American Dental Association (ADA) provides the following guidelines for choosing a good sippy cup:
If possible, avoid “no-spill” valves – At Day Family Dental, we are also parents and we know the value of a sippy cup in preventing spills and preserving our sanity! However, they release a tiny amount of liquid, which swirls the sugar around the mouth more often. We recommend reserving this type of sippy cup for trips in the car or for outings to places where spills are unwelcome or difficult to clean. While at home, consider trying a cup with valve-less spout.
Valve-less spouts – Consider a cup with a snap-on or screwing lid with a valve-less spout. Some "no spill" sippy cups have a removable rubber valve. If you remove the rubber valve, the liquid will flow more freely as the child tips the cup to drink. This will help your child to learn the motor skills necessary to control tipping and drinking from an open-top cup.
Don’t let children continuously drink sugary liquids from a sippy cup (opt for water).
Don’t let the child take a sippy cup to bed (unless it contains water).
Frequently wash/rinse the sippy cup with water to eliminate germs.
If the child must drink sugary liquids, do it at mealtimes (when saliva production is at its highest levels).
When should I transition my child from a sippy cup?
When your child has the proper motor skills to grasp an adult-sized cup – possibly around one year of age – you can begin practicing using a valve-less sippy cup or an open-top cup.
If you have questions or concerns about tooth decay or the use of sippy cups, please contact our office at 517-393-8500.
Day Family Dental
Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI