(RxWiki News) When a baby is teething, the first thing most parents want to do is reach for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, homeopathic drugs or teething jewelry. But you may want to think twice before using these products.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the public about the use of teething products because they can actually be dangerous. They can even lead to serious injury or death.
This warning even applies to older children who have special needs and who use teething jewelry for sensory stimulation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using alternative methods to soothe teething pain. The AAP recommends that parents rub the infant's gums with a clean finger or let the child chew on a teething ring made of firm rubber.
For children with sensory stimulation needs, speak with a pediatrician about safer options.
When Does Teething Begin?
Children typically begin teething around 4 to 7 months. They typically have a total of 20 “baby teeth” by age 3.
Teething symptoms include drooling, mild irritability, a low-level fever and an urge to chew something hard.
Teething Bracelets and Necklaces
Teething jewelry includes necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry that is marketed to help relieve infants' teething pain.
These types of jewelry are also marketed toward those with special needs, such as autism or ADHD, to offer sensory stimulation or redirect chewing on clothes or body parts.
It is important to note that teething rings and teethers are not the same as jewelry marketed for teething.
The main difference is that teething rings and teethers are made of hard plastic or rubber, while teething jewelry is made of amber, marble, silicone or wood.
The FDA warns about jewelry marketed for relieving teething because these items can lead to choking, strangulation, injury to the mouth (irritates or pierces gums) and infection.
Teething Creams and Gels
Many warnings have been associated with the use of teething creams and gels over the years. The FDA has warned consumers that these products offer little to no benefit because they wash out of a baby’s mouth within minutes and come with potentially serious risks.
These products include benzocaine (a local anesthetic) and can be found in creams, gels or homeopathic teething tablets. Brand names may include Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, Hurricaine, Orabase, Orajel and Topex.
Furthermore, prescription and OTC benzocaine products are widely used in adults and can lead to life-threatening methemoglobinemia. And certain conditions and factors can place you at greater risk for complications. These conditions and factors include but are not limited to heart disease, older age, smoking and breathing problems.
The FDA continues to add more evidence to past warnings about the risk for methemoglobinemia with the use of benzocaine products. Methemoglobinemia occurs when the amount of oxygen carried through the blood is dangerously reduced.
How to Safely Ease Teething Pain
To soothe teething pain, the FDA recommends that parents gently rub or massage their child's gums with a finger or offer a teething ring made of firm rubber to chew.
However, make sure the teething ring is not frozen. If the object is too hard, it can actually hurt your child’s gums.
Watch your child to make sure he or she doesn't accidentally choke on the teething ring. And for children with sensory stimulation needs, the FDA recommends that parents speak with a pediatrician about safer options.
Speak with your child's health care provider for more information on how to safely ease teething pain.
Written By Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS