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Teething medicines aren't good for kids, FDA warns

July 9, 2018—It's a big deal when a baby's first teeth start to come in. Those pearly whites brighten up an already cute smile. But teething can make babies achy—and cranky.

Many stores sell teething gels or other products that contain the medicine benzocaine. Parents may rub these products on a child's sore gums to numb them. But you shouldn't use these products to ease teething pain, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For one thing, the medicine doesn't stay on the gums long enough to help them feel better. Worse, using numbing medicines on a child's gums can be dangerous. It can potentially lead to a serious (and sometimes fatal) condition called methemoglobinemia, according to FDA.

Benzocaine can be found in several over-the-counter products, including Baby Orajel, Anbesol and Orabase. The FDA also warns against using teething tablets that contain belladonna, a plant-based poison.

Safer ways to soothe

So what can you do to ease teething pain without medicines? The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer these tips:

  • First, be sure that your baby is actually teething. Your baby's age can be a clue: Teething usually happens at around 4 to 7 months. And look for these symptoms: A teething baby may cry, drool, have a low fever and try to chew on things.
  • If your baby is teething, gently rub the baby's tender gums with a clean finger.
  • Let your child chew on a rubber teething ring. (Don't use a frozen one, which could be hard enough to hurt your child's gums.) Remember to keep a close eye on your child to make sure he or she doesn't choke.

If your child has a high fever (above 101 degrees), the problem may not be teething. Talk with your child's doctor in that case.

Take care of that good looking grin

Good dental habits start early. Find out how to care for your child's teeth.

A baby sucks on a plastic pink ring. Text reads: Teething hurts. But numbing medications can be dangerous. Find a safe way to soothe.

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