The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a warning regarding the use of over the counter (OTC) pain reliever teething gels containing the local anesthetic; benzocaine, commonly sold under the brand names Orajel, Anbesol, Hurricaine, and Orabase.
The FDA reports that such teething gels have been linked to cases of methemoglobinemia, a rare but serious blood disorder in which oxygen level in the blood stream is greatly reduced and can even be fatal. Symptoms of methemoglobinemia are commonly unrecognized, posing a serious risk. Symptoms include pale, gray or blue looking skin, lips, and fingernails; shortness of breath; fatigue (tiredness); confusion; headache; lightheadedness; and rapid heart rate.
The FDA recommends that parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for teething children, especially children younger than two years due to the difficulty to recognize symptoms of methemoglobinemia.
To read more about this warning, visit the FDA website.
How can you help a child who is teething?
Dr. Sjostrom follows the recommendations of the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that parents should avoid the use of benzocaine teething products for children and that children should have their first dental visit when teeth begin to come in, and no later than their first birthday, allowing the opportunity to discuss proper oral care with parents, including methods to cope with teething pain.
It is important to keep in mind that teething is a normal part of a child’s development. To help relieve teething symptoms, Dr. Sjostrom suggests:
- Give your child a chilled teething ring or cool wash cloth.
- Gently massage your child’s gums with your finger.
For additional help with a teething child or other concerns, contact our office at (505) 200-3516.