Are Teething Gels Safe? The Risks You May Not Have Considered

March 25, 2017

Teething gel is often recommended as a way to combat the pain and discomfort of teething, but it may be doing more harm than good. It's natural to want to find a quick and easy remedy, as no parent wants to see their child in pain; however, knowing your options is essential.

Before committing to any kind of remedy, it's important to do a little research and ensure you're making the best choice for your child. 

Why are teething gels considered a health risk to babies?

The main ingredient in teething gels is usually found to be benzocaine. This is an anaesthetic that has been deemed by the FDA as a risk of developing methemoglobinemia – a potentially deadly condition that reduces the levels of oxygen in the baby's bloodstream.

The FDA has also issued official safety warnings (in both 2006 and 2014) to ensure parents are aware of the effects of these products in young children.

What are the symptoms of methemoglobinemia?

There are several symptoms of methemoglobinemia – none of which you'd want your baby to endure, including:

  • Pale, grey toned or blue skin, lips and nails.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • An increased heart rate.
  • Light headedness.
  • Headaches.
  • Confusion.
  • Fatigue.

These may occur just minutes after using the gel, or may take a few hours to show.

Aside from the risks, are teething gels even effective?

Contrary to popular belief, no, they are not. These gels are rapidly washed away by saliva, so they'd only provide relief for a matter of minutes at best.

What else should be avoided?

Due to the risks, the FDA recommends avoiding any pain relief medicine or teething gel that contains benzocaine or lidocaine, as well as most numbing agents. You should also avoid rubbing alcohol into the gums. While this may have been common in the past, it can actually make babies feel unwell.

The FDA has also recommended parents to avoid products containing unregulated belladonna – a plant that can be toxic in certain dosages and may lead to drowsiness or heart problems.

Are teething gels ever okay?

After the age of around two, gels containing benzocaine are considered safer for your child to use. However, it's still best avoided completely to be on the safe side. If you must use them, do so in moderation while exploring alternatives. 

What's the alternative to teething gels?

There are plenty of ways to help your child through teething without resorting to teething gels, such as icy cold water, infant pain reliever, chilled foods or teething toys. One option to consider is the teether toys here at Wimmzi.

Not only are our chewy toys soothing for your baby's swollen gums, but they're also hypoallergenic and BPA, PVC and phthalate free, as well as being FDA approved!

Explore more at wimmzi.com to learn more, or check out our other blog posts for more helpful tips, tricks and information regarding teething!



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