Teething products such as anesthetic gels and homeopathic teething tablets may be very dangerous for babies, especially for those under two years old. The FDA recommends that parents avoid using them to treat the symptoms of teething in their children.
Symptoms of teething are nearly unmistakable as the first of 20 baby teeth begin to make an appearance beginning around age 6-12 months. The symptoms include fussiness, trouble sleeping, irritability, loss of appetite and increased drooling. Some babies may also develop fever, diarrhea or rash, which may require a call to the pediatrician.
What is Unsafe About Numbing Gels or Teething Tablets?
In May, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement warning parents that teething gels which contain benzocaine should be used only in adults and children over 2 years old, and only used if the drug bears the appropriate warnings on the label. The FDA says “These products carry serious risks and provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain, including sore gums in infants due to teething”. Benzocaine is an over the counter anesthetic sold under the product names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase.
The drug has been associated with a rare but very serious and potentially fatal condition known as methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder. In this rare condition, the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is significantly reduced.
Further, the FDA recommends disposing of and discontinuing use of homeopathic teething tablets due to lab testing which indicates “inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain homeopathic teething tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label”. Children under two have an unpredictable response to belladonna, which puts them at unnecessary risk. Homeopathic teething products are not evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness, and have not been proven as an effective treatment for teething.
Signs you should seek immediate medical care include: seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using these products.
So How Can I Soothe Teething Symptoms?
The American Dental Association recommends soothing sore gums by gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad. A clean teether for the baby to chew on may help. Avoid liquid filled teething rings, or plastic objects that are breakable.
Talk to your dentist about teething, and treatment alternatives to teething gels and tablets. For more information contact Dr. Babaloui.
Source: American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy, Teething, May 2018 www.mouthhealthy.org.