Warning Against Teething Gels for Babies

I’m Teething! Can I Chew on This?

Your child is screaming and there is drool everywhere.  You pick up your baby and what do you see?  There are little white buds trying to emerge into the mouth.  There it is – she’s teething.  This event is usually welcomed with a combination of joy and dread.  Your baby is growing up, but she’s going to be miserable for the next week or so.  It also means those sleepless nights might be headed your way again.  Worst of all, your heart breaks knowing she is uncomfortable.

We used to run to the medicine cabinet and find some teething gel to relieve her pain.  Let’s numb the area and make this process as easy as possible.  The FDA has recently released a warning against these teething gels.  The main ingredient in these gels is benzocaine, which is a topical anesthetic.  Studies have linked benzocaine with a rare condition called methemoglobinemia.  This causes a rapid decrease in the levels of oxygen in the blood.  Symptoms will show up quickly after application and include: pale or blue skin, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion, headache and an increased heart rate.  If you notice these symptoms, your child needs immediate medical attention.

Check your medicine cabinets and read the labels.  Look at teething gels, throat lozenges and sprays, canker sore treatment etc.  Note that the main cases of methemoglobinemia associated with benzocaine were seen in children 2 years old and younger.

So what can you do when your little one is so miserable?  It’s time to go old school and grab the teething rings (frozen ones are even better).  Sophie the giraffe is a classic.  At our office, we give out little two sided toothbrushes that kids love to chew on.  It serves a dual purpose, because it cleans the teeth as they come in.  For those miserable nights, you might want to consider some low dose NSAIDS if it isn’t contraindicated in your child.  Don’t worry – you’ll both make it through this time.  Before you know it – she’ll have a smile filled with pearly whites!

Here is the link to the FDA site

One Response to “Warning Against Teething Gels for Babies”

  1. Tania says:

    Thx for the info. It seems more data is being published about young children(under 2) indicating if you can avoid medications for non-serious issues(i.e. non-life threatening) it is preferred. The side effects that can potentially occur are just not worth it. As a mom who currently has a 16month old who is drooling and teething I understand the frustration of wanting to sooth your little one but I agree teething rings and lots of fun distractions are the way to go.

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