A sippy cup is a parent’s best friend once kids stop using a bottle. With a sippy cup, your child can drink water, juice, milk, or any other beverage without you worrying about cleaning up spills.
But while the convenience of a sippy cup is great, these cups can cause some serious developmental issues with your child’s mouth if they’re used incorrectly. Let’s discuss everything you need to know now.
If used incorrectly, a sippy cup can cause malformation of the hard palate, which leads to malocclusion (bite problems) and crooked teeth.
Why? Because sippy cups cause your child to swallow incorrectly. Imagine the process of drinking from a sippy cup. Your tongue will rest on the bottom of your mouth so that you can fit the spout into your mouth. Then, you suck on the spout and swallow while your tongue remains on the bottom of your mouth.
This is not the proper mechanics of a swallow. When swallowing, the tongue should rise to the roof of your mouth and behind your teeth to get the liquid to go down your throat.
By emphasizing improper swallowing mechanics, a sippy cup can make it much harder for your child to swallow properly. This can result in issues like tongue thrusting, which can lead to crooked teeth, speech impediments, and other issues later in life.
Sippy cups have their place. They’re a good way to transition your child into drinking from open cups, and can be used between the ages of 6-12 months, when your child is beginning to move away from exclusively breastfeeding.
However, sippy cups should not be used past the age of 12 months, and it’s best to avoid using a sippy cup for more than 1 month. During this time, you should try to get your child to drink from open cups as much as possible to encourage proper oral development.
What if your child just won’t drink from open cups yet? Should you still use a sippy cup? The answer is “no!” Today, there’s a better alternative, like the WOW Cup from WOW Gear.
This cup, and others like it, use a unique suction design that seals liquids within the cup, but allows your child to drink from 360° around the cup without a hard spout that interferes with their oral development.
By using this product or a similar sealed drinking cup, you can mitigate spills, encourage your child to make the transition to open cups sooner, and avoid the oral development issues that can be caused by prolonged sippy cup use.
The sippy cup is meant to be a transitional tool, and is not a long-term replacement for your child learning to drink from an open cup. So make sure you avoid prolonged use, or switch to a 360° cup as your child learns to drink from open cups.
Got other questions about childhood oral development or dental care? Dr. Sam Alzayat at Willow Pediatric Dentistry can help. Contact us online or give us a call at (949) 966-0669 to schedule your little one’s first dental appointment today.