John Mersch, MD, FAAP
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.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Teething facts
- What is teething?
- When do babies start teething?
- What are the signs and symptoms of teething?
- What is the order of tooth eruption in infants?
- How long does teething last?
- When should I call the pediatrician?
- 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?
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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