Sippy cups are meant to help children transition from bottles to cups. They are a convenient way to prevent spills as children learn this new skill. However, sippy cups are often overused and misused, leading to tooth decay among toddlers and preschoolers. Sippy cups can cause tooth decay when they are filled with sugary beverages that children are allowed to sip on throughout the day. This constantly coats their teeth in sugar which allows bacteria and plaque to form causing tooth decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers these tips to help parents know how to properly use sippy cups:
- The sippy cup is a training tool to help children transition from a bottle to a cup. It shouldn’t be used for a long period of time - it’s not a bottle and it’s not a pacifier.
- Unless being used at mealtime, the sippy cup should only be filled with water. Frequent drinking of any other liquid, even if diluted, from a bottle or no-spill training cup should be avoided.
- Sippy cups should not be used at naptime or bedtime unless they only have water in them.
Your dentist can further explain the proper use of sippy cups and can evaluate your child for tooth decay. Use the sippy cup appropriately and let kids try real cups too. They will be excited to be a big kid and will get the hang of it faster than you may think!