How baby bottles and sippy cups affect your child’s teeth


It’s OK for your baby or toddler to drink from a bottle or sippy cup. It’s what you put in it and when they drink that matters.

Baby bottle tooth decay is what happens when a child who drinks from a bottle or sippy cup gets cavities on their baby teeth. Tooth decay in baby teeth sets the stage for problems with permanent teeth like additional cavities and improper placement. Here’s what you can do to protect your infant’s chompers:

  • Don’t share saliva with your youngster by eating from the same spoon or licking a pacifier.
  • Wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after meals.
  • Brush baby teeth gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can spit and not swallow toothpaste.
  • Place only formula, milk, breast milk, or water in bottles. Avoid juice, soft drinks, and sugar water.
  • Infants and toddlers should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before lying down. Your child is at higher risk of getting cavities if he’s put to bed with a bottle or if a bottle is used to calm him when he’s fussy.
  • If your child must go to bed with a bottle or cup, fill it with water. Water with fluoride is best.
  • If your child wants a drink between meals, give him water. Wait until meals to give your child juice or another sugary beverage. During meals, the act of chewing food gets saliva flowing, which helps wash away leftover sugar from your child’s teeth.
  • Avoid dipping pacifiers in sugar or honey.
  • Don’t give juice to infants under the age of 1.

Whether your child drinks from a bottle or sippy cup, always provide healthy, well-balanced meals. And remember to schedule your child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist after he gets his first tooth or by his first birthday.

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