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Baby chewing on teething ring

Teething Medicine Warning for Parents

By Dr. David Holzager, Hampton Roads Pediatrics

Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning parents to stay away from many gels and creams used to treat teething pain in young children. Benzocaine, the numbing ingredient found in these over-the-counter topical medications, can cause rare, but life-threatening side effects, especially in children 2 years and under. In addition, they offer little to no benefit for treating their pain since a teething baby drools so much that the medication washes away within minutes.

Instead of using Benzocaine-containing pain relievers to relieve teething pain, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:

  • Gently rub or massage your child’s gums with a clean finger.
  • Use a firm, solid – not liquid filled – rubber teething ring. Stay away from teething necklaces, as they can pose a risk of strangulation.
  • Allow your child to gnaw on a clean wet or frozen washcloth.
  • Use teething biscuits only under close supervision, as bits and pieces can easily break off and cause choking.
  • If your baby is truly uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about giving your child a weight-appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Never give a child under the age of two aspirin, as it may cause a serious, potentially fatal condition known as Reye’s syndrome.

Teething can begin as early as three months of age, but usually begins between four to seven months. The two bottom teeth, known as the central incisors, are usually the first to appear.

Signs your child is teething include:

  • Tender, swollen gums.
  • Lots of drooling.
  • Irritability.
  • Disrupted sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Slight fever.

Be sure to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment as soon as their teeth begin to come in, or by their first birthday. A pediatric dentist will make sure your child’s teeth are developing correctly and check for any dental problems.

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.