Healthy Living in the North

“Sip Cup” – Friend or Foe?

Running water from a tap filling a glass

Ditch the sip cup! Beginning at age one, start to introduce your child to a regular lidless cup.

These days, families with young children are on the go! With this comes the challenge of keeping children healthy and happy. One of the more common conveniences that we see for young children between the ages of 1-3 is the “sip cup”.

Sip cups have been around for several years. With a spouted lid, they are often preferred as a drink container by parents for several reasons. Parents can choose what beverage they put in the sip cups, lids are spill-resistant and the cups are break-resistant and reusable.

But, depending on how they are used, did you know that they could be putting your child at a higher risk of tooth decay?

If your child has teeth, they are at risk for tooth decay. Tooth decay can happen as the tooth is erupting too! To minimize the risk of tooth decay, have your child drink water for thirst. Other beverages contain sugars which coat the teeth over and over again, every time your child takes a sip. Even fruit juice contains natural sugars. Water is the safest drink between meals and for thirst. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends introducing your child to a regular lidless cup around the age of one. So you can skip the sip cup! Remember to wash cups in hot soapy water between uses.

To help protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay, use a “pea sized amount or less” of children’s fluoride toothpaste, morning and night. Help your child brush until at least 8 years of age and continue to check how they did with brushing after that. Avoid soft sticky foods such as dried fruit, raisins or candy that will stick on your child’s teeth for long periods of time. Choose fresh fruit instead of juice or dried fruit. Drink water for thirst and visit your dental team regularly.

The Canadian Dental Association encourages the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.

For more information and some great dental games for kids, please visit:

Brenda Matsen

About Brenda Matsen

Born and raised in B.C., Brenda completed her diploma in dental hygiene in 1987, moved back to northern B.C. to work, raised her four sons in Prince George and, in 2009, obtained her BHSc. Brenda is the manager of the Northern Health Dental Program and has been with Northern Health since 2002. She is passionate about making a difference and appreciates the "can do" attitude of fellow northerners. When not at work, Brenda can be found enjoying the great outdoors in a variety of activities with her husband and Vizslas, throughout all our beautiful seasons.