April is Oral Health Month. Parents Encouraged to “Give Up the Sippy Cup”
Monday, April 1, 2019
Perth County ̶ April is oral health month and this year the Perth District Health Unit is encouraging parents to give up their child’s sippy cup. Despite what parents may think, sippy cups or no-spill training cups, do not help children learn to drink from an open cup. In fact, sippy cups may lead to more cavities as well as speech problems and delays.
When a baby starts solid food, around 6 months, they can begin to use an open cup. They will need help at first and there will be lots of spills! But with practice, babies can drink from an open cup by 12-15 months old.
If parents choose to give their child a sippy cup, it should be used only for milk at meals and water at other times. “Sippy cups filled with liquids other than water are one of the biggest contributors to tooth decay (cavities) in young children,” says Anna Read, Registered Dental Hygienist at the Health Unit. “It’s not just the amount of sugar that is important, but how long sugar stays in the mouth.” If kids are sipping milk or sugary drinks all day, the teeth are constantly exposed to sugar, which can lead to cavities.
Read suggests parents lift their child’s upper lip once a month to check for signs of tooth decay. Signs of decay include chalky, white or brown spots along the gum line. Even though children lose their baby teeth, it’s still important to protect these teeth from decay. Decay can lead to pain and infection and affect the growth of permanent teeth, but it is preventable.
Oral health month is also a good time to remind parents to take their children to a dental professional at least once a year for a check-up. Children and youth living in families with low income may be eligible for free dental services through the Healthy Smiles Ontario program.
Stop by the Festival Marketplace Mall on Saturday, April 13, between 10 am and 4 pm. Health Unit staff and members of the Stratford and District Dental Society will be answering questions about children’s oral health and handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste samples.
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