FDA Warns Against Using Benzocaine and Lidocaine for Teething Pain in Children

Mother brushing her teeth with her babyPhoto by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents about the dangers of using benzocaine or lidocaine to treat teething pain in infants and young children. These substances, found in many over-the-counter and prescription medications, pose serious health risks that can lead to injury or death.

The Risks of Benzocaine

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic commonly found in products like Anbesol, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, HurriCaine, Orabase, Orajel, and Topex. While these products are marketed for oral health care, their use in children for teething pain is dangerous. Benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition where the blood’s ability to carry oxygen is significantly reduced. This condition can be fatal.

The Dangers of Lidocaine

Lidocaine, used in some prescription medications for mouth pain, also should not be applied to a child’s gums for teething. This substance can lead to severe heart problems, brain injuries, and even death. Additionally, if too much lidocaine is applied or if it is accidentally swallowed, it can cause seizures in infants and young children.

Teething Jewelry Hazards

The FDA has also reported incidents of death and serious injuries related to teething jewelry. Amber teething necklaces and similar items can lead to strangulation and choking. These products, often marketed as natural remedies, pose significant risks that far outweigh any perceived benefits.

Safer Alternatives for Teething Pain

For parents seeking ways to soothe their child’s teething pain, safer alternatives are available. Gently massaging a child’s gums with a finger or providing a firm rubber teether can help. It is important to supervise children while they are using teethers to prevent choking. Avoid teething rings that are liquid-filled or frozen, as they can be too hard and potentially harm the child’s gums.

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Cautionary Tale

Teething is a normal and often uncomfortable experience for infants and children. Parents naturally want to alleviate their child’s discomfort but must be cautious about the methods they choose. The FDA’s warning highlights the importance of avoiding benzocaine and lidocaine due to their severe health risks.

Implications for Public Health

This warning serves as a crucial reminder that not all marketed products are safe for every use. Even substances deemed safe for adults can have dire consequences when used in children. The FDA’s alert aims to protect children by informing parents and caregivers about the dangers associated with certain teething remedies.

Protecting Little Smiles

Parents should consult healthcare professionals for advice on managing teething pain. Awareness of the risks associated with benzocaine, lidocaine, and teething jewelry can prevent tragic outcomes. By choosing safer alternatives and staying informed, parents can ensure their children’s teething experiences are as comfortable and safe as possible.

The FDA’s announcement calls for vigilance and better education on effective and safe practices for addressing common childhood issues. This proactive approach can save lives and promote healthier outcomes for young children across the nation.

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