Saturday, June 2, 2012

Teething Gel Might be Harmful

Concerned about teething pain?  You might consider simply using a teething ring or toy.  Some toys can be chilled in the freezer so the baby has something cold to bite on.  As a last resort you could try an occasional dose of acetaminophen. 

I think teething pain is overestimated.  It's easy to blame fussiness, a temper tantrum, difficulty falling asleep, drooling, chewing on things, and picky eating on teething.  Babies always show lots of behavior that we call "teething" such as drooling, mouthing things, and biting on objects.  Older kids also get new teeth (after their baby teeth fall out).  They don't complain that much when their adult teeth come it.  I don't think I've known them to need teething gel.

Teething gels contain benzocaine, which is a topical anesthetic.  Rarely, young children have a condition which can cause them to have a life threatening reaction to these anesthetics.  If the tube of gel is left accessible to a young child they may ingest too much, making such a reaction worse.  A few years ago a patient in my pediatric practice almost died when she ingested a tube of teething gel and developed the life-threatening condition of methemoglobinemia. 

I don't think the benefit of the teething gel is worth the risk it may pose for an infant or young child. 

Here is a link for more information:
FDA warns parents on using benzocaine to relieve pain of teething babies | Drug Store News

 (And, in case you were wondering, teething does not cause a "fever-level" temperature--so if the temperature is over 100.5 degrees F, then think about an illness!)

As always, the information in this blog is not meant to provide personal medical advice or treatment for any individual--for that you will always need to rely on your own personal pediatrician!