Teething gels are marketed as a source of relief for suffering infants who are uncomfortable when their first teeth begin to erupt. Parents trying to relieve their child’s pain might search the pharmacy for any treatment option so their baby can sleep soundly at night. While teething gels are available in nearly every drugstore, are they actually safe for your child?
Why You Should Avoid Teething Gels
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to parents and caregivers regarding teething gels marketed to babies and toddlers: stay away. Many of these products contain benzocaine, a local anesthetic, which has been proven to contribute to the development of methemoglobinemia, a rare disorder causing decreased blood oxygen levels which can prove fatal to children under age 2.
The method in which teething gels are applied can easily lead to overdose as well, further increasing the risk to the child. When the gel is slathered on a bottle or toy, the child could ingest much more than the recommended dosage.
Alternate Ways to Relieve Your Baby’s Discomfort
Instead of teething gels, find natural home remedies that help your baby cope with the pain. Freeze a wet washcloth or teething toy. When babies bite down on the cold object, it has an effect similar to an anesthetic, numbing the painful area for a brief period.
You can also gently rub your child’s affected gums with a clean finger. The pressure massage can give them a short period of relief. You can cover your finger with a rubber toothbrush designed for baby teeth cleaning to protect yourself in case your baby bites down.
If the baby’s pediatrician approves, you also can offer over-the-counter pain medication when the discomfort reaches an extreme level.
When Should Your Child Visit the Dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, babies should see the dentist for the first time by age 1, or six months after their first tooth erupts, whichever milestone arrives first. Misconceptions surrounding the importance of toddler dental visits abound, partially due to the lack of knowledge about how vital the first set of teeth is to future oral health.
The primary teeth are integral in holding space for the adult set of teeth. They help a child’s speech develop normally and they are key to proper, healthy digestion. Take care of your baby’s teeth from the moment they arrive and schedule an appointment with your family dentist.
Call Oak Hills Dentistry if you have additional specific concerns about teething gels or the development of your baby’s teeth — our team of dental professionals is available to provide information and assistance.