When the tears flow and wailing begins, a mother will do just about anything to make her baby's teething pain go away. But according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, she shouldn't head to the drugstore. The FDA warned parents in a recent Consumer Update that mouth-numbing gels and liquids don't belong on babies' gums.
The FDA has previously warned parents not to use over-the-counter mouth-numbing benzocaine products, but the new warning adds prescription drugs, such as lidocaine viscous, to the list of medications that should not be used on children younger than 2, unless directed by a medical professional. Babies who are given too much lidocaine viscous may suffer the following overdose symptoms, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices:
- falling asleep too easily
- vision problems
- heart problems
- severe brain injury
Although mouth-numbing products may provide relief from teething, using them puts a baby at risk for methemoglobinemia, a disorder which limits the amount of oxygen in the child's bloodstream. Babies suffering from this condition will exhibit blue-tinted skin, shortness of breath and lack of energy.
Safe teething remedies
Keep your baby safe by opting for a more natural approach to soothing sore gums. Teeth buds begin to emerge around 6 months of age and continue until approximately age 3, when the child's mouth is filled with temporary baby teeth.
To ease oral pain during this time, try:
- Offering the baby a frozen teething ring to cool and numb sore gums.
- Rubbing the baby's gums with a finger or a cold, damp wash cloth to reduce swelling.
- Giving the baby a chilled pacifier fresh from the freezer.
- Holding a cold carrot for the baby to gnaw on to apply soothing pressure to the gums.