Will Sippy cups harm my child's teeth?

Posted Oct 2nd, 2019

Will Sippy cups harm my child's teeth?

Once a child is ready to transition away from breast or bottle feeding, many well-meaning parents offer their child a sippy cup as a next step. Here, our Langley dentist explains why you may want to skip the sippy cup to help protect your child's teeth.


Sippy cups were created for children who have outgrown baby bottles but aren't ready to manage a full-size cup on their own.

Sippy cups are also handy and help to prevent messy spills as young children learn to take a drink without the help of an adult.

That said, frequently drinking from sippy cups can lead to a number of issues for children.

Tooth Decay

When a child drinks from a sippy cup, the six upper front teeth are immersed in the liquid. If the sippy cup contains something sweet like juice or milk, the child's teeth are being bathed in sugar frequently throughout the day.  Naturally occurring bacteria in the child's mouth uses the sugars to produce acids that can dissolve and damage the teeth. If left untreated, tooth decay could result in pain or infection, and require treatment or even extraction. 

Water is the only drink that children should be served in sippy cups, in order to prevent the risk of tooth decay.

Loss of Appetite

When children are allowed to carry around a sippy cup, they tend to frequently take drinks between meals. That means, when mealtime rolls around the child isn't as likely to be hungry for nutritious foods.

Oral Motor Delays

The spouts of sippy cups rest over the front of the tongue with each swallow. Because the spout holds the tip of the child's tongue down it can lead to a delay in oral motor development and speech development. 

It's a good idea to begin teaching your child to use a straw, or drink from an open cup early in order to avoid future issues, but don't fret if you occasionally feel the need to offer your child a sippy cup in order to save your sanity. Occasional use isn't likely to cause any harm.

If you have more questions about how to help protect your child's teeth, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

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