It can be hard to see a baby upset due to teething. As a parent you will obviously want to help. But what teething remedies and treatment are advised, and what should you avoid?
We will break the treatment of teething into three main categories:
1. Teething gels
Topical medicines, for instance gels that are placed directly onto the gum. Such gels usually contain benzocaine (a topical anesthetic). The FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) has issued guidelines against the use of such gels. Put briefly, using benzocaine can result in severe side effects. Such side effects are very rare, but the potential risk outweighs any benefits for teething relief.
Topical powders are best avoided due to risk of inhalation. Never place aspirin on the gums of babies. Alcohol should never be applied to babies gums.
So generally speaking, topical teething gels and the like are best avoided (unless advised by your own practitioner). The following two groups of treatment options and teething remedies are preferable:
2. Medicines that are taken by mouth
Certain medications are safe and effective for teething, if the home-care remedies are having little or no effect. Give your baby a mild analgesic such as Tylenol (paracetamol) or ibuprofen, in the recommended dose (for your child’s age). Always check medicine labels carefully. Note that ibuprofen should not be given to babies younger than 6 months. Never give a child any product containing aspirin.
Be careful not to overmedicate as this may result in masking any more serious conditions, that just might happen to occur at the same time as teething.
3. Safe home teething remedies and tips
There are several thing to try at home which can help soothe a teething baby. Here are some of them:
“Teething rings/toys”, also known as “teethers”. These are generally made from safe plastic materials, with an outer texture that babies like to chew on. They give your child something to chew into to help relieve the pressure on the gums. Do be very careful not to use teethers are not degrading or breaking down, as bits may fall off and cause a choking hazard.
Babies often like cold objects on the inflamed gums. Simple home remedies like placing a little cold water in a soother/pacifier, then putting this in the freezer for a while, can help. Make sure it doesn’t freeze through as this will be too hard too hard on the gums. Some teethers have water inside and likewise can be chilled in a freezer for a few minutes.
Similarly, a clean wet cloth place in the freezer for a few minutes can give relief when placed gently on the gums for a few minutes. Only apply such cold materials for a few seconds at a time!
Chilled drinks and soft foods can help. Try very cold yogurts or pureed applesauce.