Baby's Teeth Coming In? You Can Relieve Teething Pain Safely Without Medicine

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
teething baby
bo espinosa-setchko, md
Bo Espinosa-Setchko, MD, MPP

When your baby is howling from a sharp little incisor that’s just itching to break through the gumline, you understandably want to do whatever you can to stop the pain.

But if your go-to has been homeopathic teething tablets and gels, you’ll want to switch up your strategy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that these may pose a risk to children and infants.

The FDA warns caretakers to be on the lookout for these symptoms after using a homeopathic teething aid:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Flushed skin
  • Constipation
  • Trouble urinating
  • Agitation

If you observe any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician immediately.

6 Simple Solutions to Teething Pain Relief

“The good news is that teething pain can be managed without medications of any kind, whether prescribed or over-the-counter,” says Bo Espinosa-Setchko, MD, MPP, a general pediatrician at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s.

Those medicines, intended to help your baby, has the potential to cause harm, she says.

“In fact, many pain relievers contain benzocaine, which can pose a safety risk leading to methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder that causes a reduction in blood oxygen and can be fatal,” Dr. Espinosa-Setchko says.

Benzocaine is sold under brand names such as Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, Hurricaine, Orabase, Orajel and Topex, along with generic and store brands advertised as relieving oral pain.

Dr. Espinosa-Setchko advises trying these all-natural items instead to help make your baby a little more comfortable:

  • A wet washcloth. Place it in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes first and then let your child gnaw on it.
  • A frozen banana or berries. These are an option once you’ve introduced solids.
  • Solid teething rings. Chill these in the freezer beforehand but not to the point at which they’re rock solid. Skip the liquid-filled rings, as there’s a chance that sharp teeth could puncture these and release the liquid, which may contain bacteria.
  • A sippy cup of cool water. This is a good choice once your baby is older than 6 to 9 months.
  • Chewy toys. Try ones made of silicone or latex instead of plastic, which may contain potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Your finger. This works best before your tiny tot has sprouted any teeth, of course. Just be sure to wash your hands first!

Related links

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