Know When to Take Away the Bottle and Sippy Cup
To a parent, the bottle and spillproof training cup (often called a sippy cup) are two essential tools that ensure your child is happy and content. We see these two innocuous objects, when used incorrectly, as the root cause of early-onset tooth decay in infants and toddlers.
So what is the problem with bottles and sippy cups? Both require a sucking motion, resulting in the liquid coating the six upper front teeth. That prevents the normal cleaning effects of saliva and promotes tooth decay. Because “baby teeth” hold the place for permanent teeth to grow in, this early childhood tooth decay can be highly detrimental. Movement or loss of the baby teeth from decay affects the way the permanent teeth grow into the gum.
The worst damage can come from the choice of liquid in the bottle or cup. Fruit juices or formula filled with sugar increase the amount of bacteria and acid generated around the teeth. In addition, these drinking aids do not develop any special oral motor skills and actually support the suckling habit detrimental to proper tooth development.
As children learn to walk, they often carry a bottle or sippy cup in their mouths. When they fall, the bottle or cup can be jammed into the mouth where it hits the teeth and gums, causing oral trauma. Think it can’t happen to your toddler? A 2012 study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reported that every four hours another child ends up in the emergency room due to an injury from a sippy cup, bottle or pacifier.
The following are some simple measures you can take to limit the detrimental effects of the bottle and sippy cup:
- Wean your child off the bottle by the age of 1 year.
- Use a sippy cup as a transitional, not permanent, solution.
- Fill the sippy cup with only water unless it’s being used at mealtime.
- Have your toddler use a straw and an open cup when drinking fruit juice or sugary drinks.
- Begin a regular oral hygiene routine at a very early age.
Bottles and sippy cups may be a simple and easy way for a toddler to experience a small degree of independence, but easy and convenient do not always equal healthiest. If you are concerned about the effect on your child’s teeth from using a bottle or sippy cup, bring your toddler to KiDDS Dental for a checkup and advice about how to keep those baby teeth healthy.