Teething - Medications

Did you treat your baby with any topical or pain medications while he/she was teething?

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What medications are used to treat teething pain?

Some controversy surrounds the use of pain medicines.

Medicines that can be placed on the gums

While some parents endorse topical medicines, studies haven't consistently shown their benefit. The FDA issued a warning in May 2011 urging avoidance of oral medications containing the topical anesthetic benzocaine. Benzocaine is the main ingredient of many over-the-counter teething sprays, lozenges, and gels. The FDA warning points out an association with methemoglobinemia, a rare but extremely serious complication. This side effect substantially limits the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. This development may produce serious to lethal side effects. Individuals who develop methemoglobinemia will become pale, lightheaded, confused, and short of breath. A rapid heart rate is also common. Such an adverse reaction may develop upon first exposure or after several exposures to benzocaine. Any individual who has such symptoms after exposure to benzocaine should seek immediate medical attention at the closest emergency room. A medication can be used to reverse these side effects.

Alcohol should never be used to numb the gums.

Medicines that are taken by mouth to help reduce the pain

Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help with pain. Ibuprofen shouldn't be given to infants younger than 6 months of age. Medications should be used only for the few times when other home-care methods do not help. Caution should be taken not to overmedicate for teething. The medicine may mask significant symptoms that could be important to know about. Do not give your child products containing aspirin. No prescription drugs are routinely given for teething.

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