The Trouble with Sippy Cups, Pacifiers, and Bottles

Barbara Tritz
· June 22, 2023 ·

10 minutes

Happy Healthy and Developing Properly

Do you want your child to be healthy? Really healthy, as in have a beautiful healthy face and broad, gorgeous smile?? If so, then it’s time to talk about their baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and thumbs.

Yes, something so simple could be the root cause of a lot of health problems such as crooked teeth, bed wetting, sleep apnea as well as gum disease and cavities. Strong words, I know. It is time to re-look at how we feed, hydrate, and soothe our children.

Mom Guilt

Just say NO to Bottles and Binks, Really

So, true confessions. As a mom, I did all of these wrong things for and to my children. I did my best but did not know that what I was doing was actually harmful to their facial growth and development. I followed the popular trends from Madison Avenue’s recommendations for bottles, pacifiers and of course, the sippy cups. So many to pick from and so much confusion as to the “best one”. I thought all those products were safe and okay to use for my girls. Hmm, boy was I wrong.

Wish I knew then what I know now.

Probably would have saved me many thousands of dollars on unnecessary orthodontics. Yes, true that! Below is a photo of my daughter’s open bite. Research shows, and she is living proof, that a pacifier creates what we call a “lateral or posterior open bite” (the teeth don’t touch in the molar areas) because the tongue, the mighty tongue, likes to go there when she swallows. It forces the teeth apart.

open bite
Her tongue created an open bite because she learned to swallow with a pacifier in her mouth.
And! This reopened after her braces were taken off…

The Sad Truth

Why are bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers so bad for facial development?

Bottom line: they all train the tongue to stay down on the floor of the mouth and teach children several bad habits.

First, they encourage mouth breathing. When the tongue is down on the floor of the mouth the lips pop open and teach baby to mouth breath. Next, they teach baby (and toddler) to swallow incorrectly.

These bad habits are hard to break and are detrimental to proper facial growth. They create open bites either between the front teeth or the molar teeth. The longer we allow these noxious habits, the more damage they create. The face grows incorrectly- long and down. This improper growth elongates the face, affecting not only the teeth, but the nasal cavity, airway, and the jaw joints. Then, this open mouth posture causes crooked teeth, underdeveloped jaws and facial changes.

Many doctors tell parents that it is okay to use these tools until age five. This is misinformation. They can do permanent damage. Here’s some research for you to bring to that doc.

The thing they don’t know is- By age four, the child has reached 60% of all facial growth. By age 9-11 he is just about done – 90% of all facial growth has already occurred. So, by ignoring the thumb sucking, the pacifier, and the sippy cup use, we encourage this improper growth, ensuring years of orthodonture to correct it. More importantly, as you can see in the picture below, the airway on the left is from a mouth breather, while the airway on the right is a nasal breather. What happens during childhood follows us into adulthood and this is hard if not impossible to undo.

The airway on the left- is a mouth breather, Airway on the right- is a nasal breather. Which do you want for your child?

Nasal Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

Proper breathing is only through the nose. The mouth is an emergency hatch. That’s all. The body is smart and needs a backup plan, just in case. BUT! The backup system is never as good as the main system.

The nose is made for breathing. The mouth is made for eating. We should never confuse the two.

The nose warms, moisturizes and purifies and filters the air from allergens and toxins. Our paranasal sinuses make nitric oxide, which is crucial to our health. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure and speeds healing which supports our immune system better.

Let’s not forget, nasal breathing is the reason we grow beautiful healthy straight teeth and attractive faces. When the tongue is in its proper position on the roof of the mouth (because the lips are together and the nose is doing its job), it exerts 700 grams of pressure against the upper palate counteracting the cheek’s 500 grams of pressure in. We get an upper jaw that grows ever so gently and very nicely around the tongue. Then we get a big, beautiful smile with room for all 32 healthy teeth. Too many adults are running around with only 28 or even only 24 teeth in their heads because their jaws never grew, and dentists took those “extra” teeth out.

If the tongue is down on the floor of the mouth, then the cheeks inward pressure has free reign and pushes everything inward and voila! Crooked teeth and a very high palate (roof of the mouth), and a V shaped upper arch of teeth and bone.

V shaped, narrow palate upper jaw with no room for all the teeth.
Crowded lower jaw with chipped, broken teeth and heavy wear into the next layer of tooth

When the lips are together, we create an oral environment rich in saliva to remineralize teeth and keep them cleaner. All my patients with tooth decay and /or gum disease have a mouth-breathing problem.

One more huge plus for nasal breathing and the resulting proper tongue position on the roof of the mouth- it results in strengthening the entire body. Imagine that! We have a much stronger body just by getting the tongue in the position it belongs. It improves posture which results in better core strength and makes the diaphragm work better so we breathe better and we are healthier.

The Newborn Swallow

The swallow- we do it over 1000 times a day and never give it a thought. Babies are born with a suckling reflex. This is so they can breastfeed. The tongue moves in and out, forward and back. This pumping action allows the baby to express milk from the breast. The breast is malleable and conforms to the baby’s palate and develops the roof of the mouth properly. The infant changes to a “sucking swallow” between two to six months of age, where the tongue does a more up-and-down motion.

The Mature Swallow

Beginning at around six months of age up to 12 months, the baby starts the transition to the “mature” swallow. This is when they start developing stronger muscles and function of the tongue, lips, and throat. The proper adult swallow is tongue to the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. Then the tongue rolls back across the palate and propels the milk or food down the throat, similar to “The Wave” at a baseball stadium. The tongue should never move forward out of the mouth during the swallow.

The Problem with Plugs, Sippy Cups, Thumbs and Bottles

The problem with anything “hard” in the mouth except a breast nipple (which is not hard) is all related to the tongue position.

The tongue is forced down to the floor of the mouth with the hard spout of the sippy cup, and the firmness of plastics of the pacifier, or bottle nipples. None of these conform to the baby’s palate because they are all forcing the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Baby never learns to change from the infant swallow to the adult swallow because of all the interfering plastic. The tongue never learns to go up to the roof of the mouth. They all block proper tongue movement. The child continues this “suckle swallowing” motion into toddlerhood, childhood, and beyond.

In addition to that, these noxious habits also hamper proper articulation. How many toddlers have you seen addicted to their binky, chewing it and speaking around it? My most memorable baby-group event was watching a baby crawl with a bottle of apple juice hanging from her mouth. Yes, it was an “Oh My” event and happened more than once. All this hard plastic or thumbs/fingers restricts the proper healthy tongue position. All the wrong muscles are used for swallowing and breathing.

Baby bottles– so many issues with baby bottles. This being possible the worst- the baby bottle sheds millions of microplastic particles a day:

High-temperature process for sterilizing plastic bottles and preparing formula milk caused bottles to shed millions of microplastics and trillions of even smaller nanoplastics.

More bottle problems arise when the milk flows too quickly for the baby to swallow, choking the baby. Change the baby bottle nipple to slow the flow rate. Also, be aware, milk can still flow out of the bottle nipple and seep into the ear canal causing an earache.

Incorrect bottlefeeding position

Feeding baby in a supine position can also cause choking. Can you drink while lying down? No, neither can I. Yet, so many infants are fed in this position. And, please, never put baby to bed with a bottle. The first ingredient in formula is sugar and so is the fourth.

Sippy cups are the worst because their plastic is the hardest. Sippy cups are just baby bottles in disguise. There is nothing healthy about them. They was invented by an engineer dad who wanted to prevent his son from spilling. There was nothing health related in the construction of the sippy cup. It was all aimed at convenience for parents. Sippy cups harbor biofilm in the nooks and crannies. Ask me how I know…

Hard Plastic

Thumbs and other digits also create the same oral problems. Problem with the thumb, it’s not removeable.

So, more mom guilt, I pushed the pacifier on my girls to “prevent” that thumb from going in there. I did not realize the trouble I was creating. Thumbs and other digits do move teeth and create jaw problems. If your child is sucking a digit, then see an airway dentist to rule out airway issues, as well as look for tongue and lip ties. By sucking the digit(s), it opens the airway. Also, when the thumb is inhabiting the roof of the mouth, it stimulates the incisive foramen and releases endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. Feels good so the child enjoys it and continues it long past when he should. Rule out anatomical problems with a knowledgeable dentist. A three-year-old should be able to kick this habit with help from a myofunctional therapist.

Pacifiers are not any better. This too was invented not by a person knowledgeable in proper facial growth but a druggist in NYC in 1901.

The problems with pacifiers are many. It opens the jaws too wide. This creates a face that grows down and long and restricts the growth of the lower jaw. With the tongue forced down, and the plastic on the roof of the mouth, the palate shape changes to “high and narrow”. It prevents proper eruption of teeth. It creates that incorrect swallow, interferes with proper articulation and enunciation of words, and allows the baby to continue that infantile suckle swallow pattern well into childhood or even adulthood. Many adults with jaw joint pain and problems were pacifier suckers as toddlers.

It does help to soothe baby, and when you/baby need that, you just need it. Pacifiers have their place for the first six months of baby’s life. After six months of age, baby is developmentally ready to self-soothe. After this age it becomes a crutch for emotional comfort. Help your baby and toddlers to break the binky habit early so their teeth and face grow to their full genetic potential.

Please, Banish the Bink! after age six months.

Banish the Binky after age 6 months

We need to rethink how we feed and soothe our children because it is the duration, intensity and frequency these tools are used which does its greatest damage to the facial and speech development of children. It has profound impacts on feeding as well.

Better than the Baby Bottle

Award winning and perfect for little hands

My favorite, favorite product for feeding baby liquids is with open cup feeding. Babycup is my all-time favorite.

It is a perfect cup for newborn feeding during times of feeding challenges. Infants can lap from a cup. Open-cup drinking can start at the age of six months and the small cup and shape size is just right for little mouths and small hands. Learning to sip with an open cup has no detrimental effects on oral development.

Sipping rather than sucking is better for proper oral health and jaw development. “Let her sip!”

My affliate code: LuluVDdgDPr5C BabyCup.com

The Adult Water “Bottle”

Adults have their own bottle issues. Water bottle usage creates the same problems in children, teens and adults. We are all sporting around our water bottle, which is just a sippy cup in disguise… All the same issues that toddlers have with bottles occur in adults.

Here’s a much healthier alternative: The REMplenish water bottle.

It has a very special straw that trains the tongue to sit in the proper position on the palate and works the tongue in that pumping front to back motion. It works your muscles which can improve airway health.

A better water bottle for teens and adults

REMplenish™ is an easy and natural way to improve airway health by exercising and strengthening the upper airway muscles thereby reducing the risk of vibration and collapsibility during sleep creating a positive impact on snoring.  

In a 2020 usability study 93% of snorers reported an improvement in their snoring and 34% reported an improvement in their level of tiredness. The simple therapy uses repetitions and resistance to exercise the tongue, mouth, and throat muscles involved with snoring. It is as easy as drinking water with our combination patent-pending straw and water bottle; drink 25 – 64oz of water daily for therapy to improve airway health and sleep.  Read more at https://www.remasteredsleep.com/in-the-news.”

I recently started using the REMplenish. I love that I feel it strengthening the muscles in the back of my mouth. It is unlike any straw you have ever used. It is literally therapy for your mouth. Think gym workout for the mouth and tongue. You will feel it, and with time you will tighten those saggy, baggy muscles. In addition to that, you will greatly benefit from more hydration. Our brains are 74% water. Water helps improve our cognition.

REMastered Sleep Here’s my associate link “queenofdentalhygiene” for 10% off your order. Drink hearty!! and Often!

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Healthy Smiles

How we nourish, feed, and soothe our littlest loves can have a big impact on how they grow and develop for the rest of their lives. Choose wisely and thoughtfully. Short term, “just this once” can turn into long term disaster and cause more problems. Let’s help our families grow to their full genetic potential and have their best healthiest best smiles.

Warmly,

Barbara Tritz

Queen of Former Mom-Guilt Sufferer and Re-educated Grandmother 😉

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

Share your thoughts below!

4 Comments

  1. Lisa marie

    Great article but how do you suggest cleaning the biofilm from the REMplenish water bottle?

    Reply
      • Barbara Tritz

        The REMplenish bottle does come with a small brush to scrub it all out.

        Reply
  2. marta alexa

    The Oral Health Foundation I follow your blog daily, and thanks to you I now have a very good dental hygiene. Now I have learned how to brush my teeth correctly, and with the help of this product https://be7bcb69twqm2s1myfp2sord4q.hop.clickbank.net I have some very clean and healthy teeth.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Importance of Chewing – Dentale 7 - […] blog post was all about bottles, the infant suck-swallow motion, the mature swallow. Today’s article is on […]
  2. Day 28: The Mighty Tongue – Dentale 7 - […] sucking- thumbs and other fingers can cause these problems as well.  Fingers, pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups (!) all…

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