- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Patient Comments: Teething - Baby's First Tooth
- Teething facts
- What is teething?
- When do babies start teething?
- What are the signs and symptoms of teething?
- Can teething cause a fever?
- Can teething cause vomiting?
- What is the order of tooth eruption in infants?
- How long does teething last?
- When should I call the pediatrician about teething pain?
- What medications are used to treat teething pain?
- What home remedies provide relief for teething pain?
- How do I care for my baby's new teeth?
- When should my child see the dentist?
When should I call the pediatrician about teething pain?
Because teething is so common and other symptoms such as fever, fussiness, and diarrhea are also common, both conditions may often occur at the same time. Other illnesses or disorders (such as viral infections) are much more likely to be causing fever, fussiness, and/or nasal congestion with cough and diarrhea. It is important to contact a doctor if these or other symptoms seem concerning. Do not assume that they are just from teething.
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 (such as Orajel). 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 consequences. 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 a child products containing aspirin. No prescription drugs are routinely given for teething.