ALPHARETTA, GA – Many parents are relieved when their babies learn how to use sippy cups. It’s a signal that your child is growing, and soon she’ll be able to feed herself without you. It’s an exciting time, and we want to make sure you understand how drinking from sippy cups can affect your child’s oral health.
Sippy cups are meant to be stepping stones from the bottle to the more mature cup. Babies, as they grow more independent and curious, will probably enjoy holding a sippy cup and drinking without Mommy or Daddy’s help. (This might even give you a few precious minutes to fold laundry or eat your own meal in peace!)
While sippy cups are made for little ones to carry easily, they aren’t intended for prolonged use. Once your child is old enough to use a regular cup, put the sippy cup away and graduate to a bigger cup.
For now, here are some sippy cup tips to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
Fill sippy cups with water only, unless it’s mealtime.
Prolonged sipping of sugary beverages can cause cavities in your little one’s mouth. Check the labels on your juices and milk; notice where there’s added sugar. That sugar isn’t good for your little one’s teeth (or your teeth, for that matter!). Even juice that is diluted with water should be avoided in the sippy cup, with the exception of mealtime. It’s okay to use a healthy juice or milk during mealtime, just don’t run around town with juice in the cup!
Does your toddler tote his sippy cup to bed at nap time and at night? It can be a comfort to allow your child to carry a drink to bed, just make sure it’s water and nothing else!
When your baby sips on juice, sports drinks, and milk in the middle of the night, the sugars feed oral bacteria and encourage cavities to grow. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the dental health of older children has improved over time, while kids between the ages of 2 and 5 show cavity increases of 15 percent.
Seriously, water is the best beverage choice around.
Unless it’s mealtime, sippy cups should only hold water. When you’re out and about, keep water in the sippy cup. Water is the best beverage for oral health. It encourages saliva to flow, which helps flush food particles and bacteria from your mouth. Water is sugar-free and delicious, and teaching your child the importance of drinking water will benefit him for years to come.
If your child really insists on a drink other than water, make sure to have them drink water after they sip on their sweet reward. It will help flush out any debris or sugar left over on the teeth. If possible, brushing is perfect for preventing plaque buildup.
Keep your child’s sippy cups clean.
Make sure you clean your sippy cups frequently and pay attention to the cleaning instructions. Many sippy cups are top-shelf dishwasher safe, though some need to be hand washed. Be diligent about emptying and cleaning sippy cups that are in your diaper bag. Be wary of who your child shares his or her sippy cup with. Germs can spread and your child could easily get sick or get cavities from another child. Old sippy cups can harbor bacteria and cause your little one to get sick.
Bring your baby to the dentist.
Has your baby cut his first tooth? If so, it’s time to schedule his first dental visit! Anytime between the first tooth and the baby’s first birthday is a great time to visit your pediatric dentist. We will check your baby’s teeth and gums and go over proper oral care for your baby. Together we will ensure a lifetime of healthy, toothy smiles!
At Dr. Nanna’s pediatric dental office, she can tell you if your child is at risk of dental decay, so you can treat minor problems early on before they get worse. She can explain the complexities of dental health to your child in a way they understand. Her expert background in pediatric dentistry allows her to understand and treat complex children’s issues better than a general dentist would.
Is your child a fan of the sippy cup? How have you got your child excited to drink water instead of sugary, cavity-causing drinks? Let us know in the comments!
© 2018 Polkadot Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Polkadot Dental, a Johns Creek dentist, is credited as sole source.