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Pacifiers, Sippy Cups, and More: Common Pediatric Dental Myths Debunked

girl using sippy cup

Do pacifiers ruin your children’s teeth? Are sippy cups bad for their oral health? And what about thumb-sucking — is it harmful?


These are just a few common pediatric dental questions parents encounter after hours of scrolling through parenting forums and social media groups. While these concerns may seem valid, the truth is that many of them are simply well-crafted myths and misconceptions.


Fortunately, we’re here to debunk these dental myths and give you professional advice to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and strong.


Myth #1: Pacifiers Ruin Teeth


Pacifiers soothe a baby’s natural sucking reflex and can provide comfort to them, but news of “pacifier teeth” has caused many parents to steer clear of this seemingly harmless tool. While the risk of pacifier teeth exists, you can avoid it with proper use and control.


Myth #2: Binkies and Thumb-Sucking Are Bad for Teeth


Similar to pacifiers, thumb-sucking is a natural reflex for babies and can provide comfort. Many parents worry that thumb-sucking will lead to misalignment or damage to teeth, but this usually only occurs if the habit continues into permanent teeth development.


Myth #3: Sippy Cups Contribute to Dental Development Issues


While sippy cups or training cups have gained a negative reputation due to the alleged risk of dental developmental issues, the actual issue with sippy cups is their content rather than the cup itself. Parents often fill sippy cups with sugary drinks, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues.


Myth #4: Drinks Other Than Water Are Bad for Teeth


It’s no secret that sugary and acidic drinks can cause tooth decay, but children will be children, and they will always crave sweet beverages. The key is moderation and proper oral hygiene habits, such as rinsing the mouth after consuming these types of drinks, which can help mitigate the risk of tooth decay.


Myth #5: Plastic Cups Are Bad for Health


Microplastic ingestion is the biggest concern regarding plastic cups, but this fear is often magnified and blown out of proportion. When buying plastic utensils or cups, you should look for BPA-free options to minimize the health risks associated with microplastic ingestion.


Myth #6: There’s No Need to Brush Baby Teeth


Some parents believe that brushing baby teeth is unnecessary and that they will fall out anyway, so why bother? However, baby teeth are crucial for proper permanent teeth development, so dentists recommend brushing baby teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to protect against cavities and promote good oral hygiene habits.


Myth #7: Kids Should Never Chew Gum


This myth is rooted in the fact that kids should never swallow gum, but chewing sugar-free gum can actually be beneficial for oral health. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids in the mouth and wash away food particles that can cause decay. Just note that a child should be supervised as gum can present a choking hazard, especially during play times.


Myth #8: Cavities Are Only Caused by Sugar


The cavity problem is more than just frequent sugar consumption. While sugar is the biggest contributor to tooth decay, other factors, such as poor oral hygiene and frequent snacking, can also significantly contribute to cavity development.


Myth #9: Kids Can Brush Their Own Teeth


Helping your children practice good oral hygiene habits is crucial, but that doesn’t mean they should brush their own teeth from a young age. Children typically don’t have the dexterity to brush their teeth properly until around six years old, so it’s essential for parents to supervise and assist with brushing until then.


The Right Way to Keep Your Kid’s Teeth Healthy


The online world is bombarded with unverified tips and tricks formulated by non-professionals and self-proclaimed experts. If you want to keep children’s dental health in check, it’s always best to follow professionally vetted advice and seek guidance from a pediatric dentist, such as:

  • Regular Consultations: Taking your child to the dentist at least twice a year is crucial for maintaining good oral health. A pediatric dentist can identify and address potential issues before they become more significant problems.
  • Start Oral Hygiene Early: It’s never too early to start teaching children about proper oral hygiene habits. As soon as teeth begin to appear, parents should gently clean them with a damp cloth and start using a soft-bristled toothbrush once all the teeth have come in.
  • Limit Sugary Treats: While it’s okay to indulge in sugary treats occasionally, limiting their intake is essential. Parents can also opt for healthier alternatives, such as fruit or cheese, which are less likely to cause tooth decay.
  • Monitor Thumb-sucking and Pacifier Use: If your child has a habit of thumb-sucking or using a pacifier, it’s important to monitor and control their use to prevent any potential dental issues. Try to wean them off these habits by age three.


Book Your Appointment Today


With the ease of information access and distribution online, it’s easy to fall prey to false claims and beliefs on many things, including your child’s dental development. As a parent, however, it’s essential to consult with a pediatric dentist for accurate and professional guidance on maintaining your child’s oral health.


Book your appointment today at Bay Area Kids Dentist to get your child started on the path toward a bright, healthy smile.