Babies usually want to bite everything. When his teeth start coming out he wants to explore with his mouth. But as soon as the teeth start to come out, gum pain is common in babies. At the time of teething in babies, gums become inflamed, red and often cause the baby some pain and discomfort. That’s why teething gels are used when they are small. But are these teething gels use for babies safe? Let’s find this out.
When the first teeth are about to come out, many babies become upset and irritable. Many times, parents, grandparents, and best-intentioned caregivers want to comfort a baby who is going through teething by spraying potentially harmful medications on the gums to numb them, rather than using safer alternatives that are not toxic. Also, many parents are very much attentive to advertisements of over-the-counter anesthetics that are passed on television. They do not hesitate to resort to the seemingly innocuous topical gels containing benzocaine in search of relief for pain.
Teething Gels for Infants: Side Effects and Precautions
Are Teething Gels dangerous for infants?
Using teething gels on infants, especially when they have not yet completed the first 2 years of life, carries serious risks. The use of gels and liquids with benzocaine for the mouth and gum pain can lead to a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen that carries blood is significantly reduced and it can even cause death.
Side Effects of Teething Gels on Infants
- Shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, pale, grey toned or blue skin, lips, and nails are some of the common symptoms of methemoglobinemia. Rush to the doctor immediately if you find any such symptoms in your baby.
- Infants who are six months old or below this age are very sensitive to the effects of methemoglobinemia. It can lead to some serious life-threatening complications when exposed.
- Some other symptoms of such products include gastrointestinal problems, hyperventilation, tremor and memory lapses.
Even the recommended dosage of teething gels are not safe to consume and can put some serious adverse effects. It has been found that chronic salicylate intoxication could occur in children using over-the-counter teething gels, even at intakes close to the recommended doses.
Most of the teething gels are manufactured with components that could be toxic, such as bisphenol-A, which has already been banned in many countries because it is related to diseases such as cancer, childhood obesity, diabetes, endocrine problems, and alterations in the body.
Not only this, there are many more risks associated with it. Such gels are not free of other worrisome chemicals, such as bisphenol-S ( also under suspicion ) or Bisphenol-F. As these teething gels remain in the babies mouth for only a few minutes and then they ingest it. Its overdose can cause seizures, severe brain injury and heart problems.
Precaution for Teething Gels
- The recommendation is that parents and caregivers should not give children teething gels for the relief of teething symptoms and should consult with medical professionals about other safe alternatives.
- If your child’s gums are inflamed and tender, you can simply rub or gently massage the gums with your finger or can even give a cold teether or bite, or a clean, damp, cool cloth to nibble on.
- Another best solution is to cool the teether or cloth in the refrigerator for a while, making sure they are fresh, but not cold like an ice cube. If it is too cold, it can hurt the gums and your child. The freshness comforts the gums when desensitizing the nerves that transmit the signals of pain.
There are many more alternatives that can be used to relieve the pain. Few among them are teething rings or a cold wet washcloth, or a weight appropriate dose of acetaminophen. Try to keep your kids away from hard foods and objects.
The benzocaine in teething gel products really works in fussy, soothing babies, but, according to the FDA, it can be quite dangerous, especially for children under two years of age. Oral gels often contain benzocaine in concentrations of 7.5 to 20 percent, which is considered a lot. Exposure to such large concentrations of benzocaine may secondarily cause anemia, hypoxia, cyanosis (abnormally blue discoloration of the skin caused by blood circulating in the venules and superficial capillaries).
Teething is a normal process in all babies, so the FDA does not recommend any drug or homeopathic remedy for it. If natural calming techniques do not calm the baby, it is recommended to contact your baby’s doctor, who can suggest other safe treatments and provide supervision in case something goes wrong.