NO! There are so many theories out there about teething, parents are up in arms about how to treat their child. The one thing that health care professionals agree on is that teething is a normal part of childhood and be treated without medicine.
Well-meaning parents and other care givers love their children want to soothe them when they are cranky and sore. Nevertheless, some adults unknowingly use potentially harmful drugs to numb the babe’s mouth instead of a safer alternative.
The FDA has warned consumers that prescription drugs such as viscous lidocaine isn’t safe for teething infants and young children. There have been adverse effects reported in some kids that have used the products.
The FDA recommends parents and caregivers do NOT use benzocaine products on children under 2 (prime teething age) unless under the strict supervision of a doctor. Benzocaine, like viscous lidocaine, is a local anesthetic, and can be found in such Over the Counter products as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase. The use of these seemingly innocent drugs can lead to a rare, serious and sometimes deadly condition called Methemoglobinemia. It is a disorder that compromises the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream. Children under two years old are at a high risk for this disorder.
The good news is that there are safer, non-toxic alternatives! Children get about one new tooth per month from age six months to age three. That’s a total of 20 baby teeth. With this development comes symptoms of mild irritability, sometimes a low grade fever, drooling and chewing on anything they can get their hands on. Teething can sometimes be blamed for other issues typical for a small child such a poor sleep habits, decreased appetite, congestion and even diarrhea.
Here’s what you can do when your baby’s gums are swollen and tender:
- gently rub/massage their gums with your clean finger
- Give your baby a cool teething ring or cool, clean damp wash cloth or burp rag to gnaw on. (ensure these items are cool but not ice cold).
The coolness soothes the gums by dulling the nerves, which transmit pain.
When your child’s teeth begin to come in, brush them gently with a child’s size toothbrush and water. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about six months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. For children between the ages of 2 and 6, brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure they spit out the toothpaste. (Ask your child’s dentist or physician if you are considering using fluoride toothpaste before age 2.)
(sources: fda.gov and ada.org)