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Sippy cups and your child's teeth

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Decay can occur as soon as teeth appear in the mouth. One of the risk factors for early childhood caries, sometimes called baby bottle tooth decay or nursing mouth syndrome, is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby's teeth to liquids, such as fruit juice, milk or formula, which all contain sugar.

Tooth decay may occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle.  Infants should finish their naptime or bedtime bottle before going to bed.  Because decay can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child, parents should encourage their children to drink from a cup by their first birthday. They may do so by using training cups, also called sippy or tippy cups, which are available in stores.

As a precaution, parents should not let their children carry the training cup around.  Toddlers are often unsteady on their feet.  They take an unnecessary risk if they try to walk and drink at the same time.  Falling while drinking from a cup has the potential to injure the mouth.

As a rule, training cups should be used temporarily.  Once they learn how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose.  It can, and should, be set aside when no longer needed.

For sipping success, it is recommended to carefully choose and use a training cup.  As the first birthday approaches, parents should encourage children to drink from a cup.  As this changeover from baby bottle to training cup takes place, take into account:

· what kind of training cup you choose
· what goes into the cup
· how frequently your child sips from it
· your child should not carry the cup around

Parents should also talk to the dentist for more information. If the child has not had a dental examination, schedule a well-baby checkup for his or her teeth. According to the American Dental Association, it is beneficial for the first dental visit to occur within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, and no later than the child's first birthday.

Information courtesy of American Dental Association
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