All About Babies

Is Your Baby Teething? The FDA Updates Warning on Gum-Numbing Medications!

Think twice before you break out the lidocaine!

Asian baby girl teething ring
If your baby is crying because of sore gums from the beginning stages of teething, avoid giving local anesthetics to alleviate his pain!

The US Food and Drug Administration released a consumer update warning against drugs or products containing viscous lidocaine, a gel-like syrup that's usually prescribed by doctors to patients with mouth or throat ulcers or patients undergoing chemo.

Parents who have given an unsupervised amount of viscous lidocaine have accidentally overdosed their babies, causing serious symptoms that include vomiting, shaking, seizures, increased risk of choking, and difficulty breathing. The FDA received 22 reports (some involving deaths) in 2014 related to viscous lidocaine, with parents reporting they soaked pacifiers and cloths in the gel or put it into baby formulas.

Two years ago, the FDA warned against gum-numbing medications containing benzocaine, an ingredient usually contained in over-the-counter products such as Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, Anbesol, and Hurricane. Prolonged use of benzocaine can lead to methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal condition where the blood stream carries a reduced amount of oxygen. Symptoms include pale or blue-gray skin, lips, and fingernail beds, plus headaches, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, and increased heart rate.

Instead of giving your baby prescription or over-the-counter medications, provide a chilled (not super cold) teething ring or wash cloth to numb pain and decrease inflammation. Or use your finger (make sure it's clean!) to gently rub and massage your baby's gums. Try these other mom-tested teething tips to distract your baby and ease the tears.

How to Soothe a Teething Baby

Image: Asian baby girl teething ring via Shutterstock