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Teething (cont.)

Are There Any Home Remedies for Teething?

  • 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. Using teething rings can be helpful. Veteran parents have discovered the usefulness of refrigerated wet washcloths, cold pacifiers, spoons, frozen bagels, or frozen bananas. 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 for teething.
    • 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, and lightheaded. 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 department. 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. Ask a health-care professional for advice regarding the use of these and other medications. 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.
    • Homeopathic remedies and other home remedies are used widely, but there is limited research into their true effectiveness. These include the use of clove oil, licorice sticks, fennel, green onion, olive oil, ginger root, and chamomile.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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