Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Often, the infant's gums feel better when gentle pressure is placed on the gums. For this reason, many doctors recommend gently rubbing the gums with a clean finger or having the child bite down on a clean washcloth.
If the pain seems to be causing feeding problems, sometimes a different-shaped nipple or use of a cup may reduce discomfort and improve feeding.
Cold objects may help reduce the inflammation as well. Veteran parents have discovered the usefulness of frozen washcloths
and ice cubes for this purpose. Be careful to avoid having prolonged contact of very cold objects on the gums. Also, never put anything into a child's mouth that might cause the child to choke.
Use of pain medications: Some controversy surrounds the use of pain medicines
While some parents endorse topical medications, studies have not consistently shown their benefit. In May 2011, the FDA issued a warning urging avoidance of oral medications containing a topical anesthetic called benzocaine. Benzocaine is the primary ingredient found in many over-the-counter teething gels, lozenges, and sprays. The FDA warning points out an association with a rare but extremely serious complication called methemoglobinemia. This side effect substantially limits the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. This development may produce a side effect spectrum from serious to lethal. Individuals who develop methemoglobinemia will become pale, short of breath, confused, lightheaded, and confused. 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 displays 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.
Medicines that are taken by mouth to help reduce pain: Acetaminophen (Children's Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Children's Advil or Motrin) may also help with pain. Ibuprofen should not be administered to infants younger than
6 months of age. Medications should be used only for the few times when the 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 children products containing aspirin.