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From the Desk of Dr. Pink

Training Cups and Oral Health

As soon as your child's first tooth comes in, they are at risk for tooth decay. Prolonged exposure to liquids containing sugar, such as juices or formula, can be harmful. There is a bacteria in the mouth that gets energy from the sugar and produces an acid that causes tooth decay. This is why many dentists recommend limiting exposure to liquids containing sugar, especially at night.

When a bottle, with milk or juice, is used to help children go to sleep at night, their teeth are exposed to the effects of the sugar all night and that can increase tooth decay. Commonly referred to as Baby Bottle Syndrome, this tooth decay occurs on a baby's front teeth. To prevent this, use water in the bottle or wash their teeth as soon as you remove the bottle once they have fallen asleep. Another solution is to wean your child from the bottle around 6 months of age.

It is recommended that a child be drinking from a regular cup by their first birthday. Training cups are a great tool to help kids transition from bottles to regular cups. They teach a child how to go from a sucking motion to a sipping motion if you choose the right one.

Here are some tips:

  • While potentially messy, avoid the no-spill ones that cause children to continue sucking and not sipping
  • Pick ones that have two handles for your child to hold onto
  • Look for a cup that features a weighted bottom to help reduce spills

A training cup should only be used for a short period of time to transition your child to a regular cup. Try to have your child drink water, instead of sugary drinks, from their cup to lessen the risk of tooth decay during this stage. If they do have a sugary drink teach them to rinse their mouth out with water afterwards. It is also important to limit their use of training cups because they can become like security blankets for some children. Limiting their use will also help you keep on top of spills and make sure they aren't running around with their cup, which could be dangerous.

  • Author: Michael J. Pink DDS
  • Last updated: 4/1/2021
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