Sippy cups were originally developed for children who have outgrown bottles and are too young to manage a full-size cup on their own. They are similar to sucking on a baby bottle, with one exception – when toddlers drink from sippy cups, they submerge their six upper front teeth in whatever is in the cup.
But as convenient as they are – sippy cups are causing far too many cavities. This is because they often carry them around for extended periods, literally dousing their teeth all day long with sugary drinks.
A study published in the Journal of Dentistry for Children found that nearly one-third of toddlers with tooth decay problems used sippy cups. While these findings are not surprising, the connection between baby bottle tooth decay and sippy cups is logical.
Tips for Saving Your Child’s Baby Teeth
Baby teeth are important because they hold the place for permanent teeth and help guide them into correct position. If left untreated, baby bottle tooth decay can result in pain and infection. Several decayed teeth may even need to be extracted, which could affect the development of permanent teeth.
Tips for parents:
Use sippy cups as a transitional step, not a long-term solution.
Don’t allow children to use sippy cups throughout the day. Save them for snacks and mealtimes.
Let children drink sugary beverages only through a straw.
Get children involved in dental care early. Wipe infant and toddler’s teeth with a damp cloth once a day. By age 2, introduce brushing with a soft-bristle brush and fluoridated toothpaste.
Many parents don’t think that it’s important to take very young children to the dentist. But in fact, parents should take their children to the dentist much earlier than most do. On average, children have their first dental visit at age 3. Dental experts recommend that initial visits occur between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, when the first tooth appears.
Children should have regularly scheduled dental visits (every six months) beginning when the first tooth appears, but not later than their first birthday.
Early dental visits can help determine if toddlers need preventive measures like fluoride treatments and provide an opportunity to teach parents to better understand and care for their child’s teeth and gums. If your children’s teeth are beginning to grow in – don’t hesitate – call our office today to schedule an appointment.