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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
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Your Child and Sippy Cups

Posted on 4/10/2015 by Cynthia Pelley

A baby boy sucking juice out of a sippy cup.

Sugar, Sippy Cups, and Tooth Decay

Parents have to make important decisions every day that affect the safety and health of their children. Many parents think that the use of sippy cups help children to develop their independence, but the fact is that sippy cups can be dangerous for the health of children for several reasons.

The major problem is that sippy cups often are filled with sugary liquids or even milk, which over time can increase the chances of tooth decay.

Some parents are using sippy cups much longer with their children than they should, which is leading to many dental problems and other related issues.
Government statistics tell us that approximately 2,800 children under three each year are treated in ERs due to accidents related to sippy cups, bottles and pacifiers. Overall, over 45,000 such injuries were reported from 1991-2010.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are considering using sippy cups with your children:


Sippy Cups with Sugary Drinks Cause Cavities

Dentists have warned for years that giving young children a sippy cup full of juice or another sugary beverage is an invitation to dental problems early and later in life. There is nothing wrong with briefly using a sippy cup filled with WATER to help a child transition from a bottle to a glass for drinking.
However, many parents are using sippy cups for long periods of time out of convenience, and filling them with sugary drinks. Bathing the baby teeth in sugary solution all day long is going to cause teeth problems sooner or later.

This can be a particularly big problem for the six front teeth. Sippy cups usually work similarly to sucking on a baby bottle. If there is anything sweet in that sippy cup, the front teeth are going to be bathed in that drink all day long.


Sippy Cups Can Injure Teeth

Some parents allow their children to walk around all day with their sippy cups. This can be particularly hazardous as the child is learning to walk. Falling while drinking from a sippy cup can cause serious dental injuries.
Generally, you should not allow your child to walk around for hours at a time with a sippy cup. A better option is to offer the child water in a sippy cup briefly between meals. At meal times, offer him a sippy cup with juice or milk, but give it to him only with the meal. The higher salivary activity at meal times will help to cleanse the teeth.


Old Sippy Cups May Contain Bisphenol A (BPA)

More and more concern is being raised about the BPA found in many common plastics. The argument is that BPA may in some cases be able to leach into some liquids. So far, research indicates that the leaching is most likely to happen when the plastic is heated or washed a lot.
Other research suggests that BPA could have a negative effect on the chromosomes of children. It is a good idea to throw away any old sippy cups that may contain BPA.
If you must use a sippy cup briefly, you should be able to buy ones that are BPA free.

Overall, remember that the use of sippy cups with your children should only be for a short period when the child is making the change from a bottle to a regular drinking cup. You should not be using a sippy cup for the sake of convenience over several months. Your child should be able to make the switch from a bottle to a cup in a few weeks. To avoid problems with spilling drinks, simply do not put anything in the cup but water between meals.

Don't forget to bring your child in for regular checkups! Call us today at (503) 235-0313 to make an appointment!

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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry - Cynthia Pelley | | (503) 235-0313
8708 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202