FDA Says Teething Products With Benzocaine Can Seriously Harm Your Baby

The FDA warns parents against using teething products like Orajel that contain benzocaine. That’s one less thing you’ll have to buy for your baby.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

When you have a new baby at home, your shopping list increases significantly.

But here’s one thing you’ll want to skip in the baby aisle next time you’re at the store.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning advising consumers not to use over-the-counter teething products containing benzocaine. This includes gels, ointments, sprays and other teething-pain treatments sold under a variety of brands and generics — including popular Baby Orajel products.

According to the FDA, the use of benzocaine in children younger than 2 has been associated with developing methemoglobinemia, a condition that reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the blood and can lead to death.

The FDA also says these products do not effectively treat teething pain because “they wash out of a baby’s mouth within minutes.”

While shoppers may still see over-the-counter teething products with benzocaine on the shelves for now, these medications should eventually disappear. The FDA is asking companies to stop selling them or face regulatory action to remove them from the market.

Orajel already has posted a notice on its website stating that it is stopping the distribution and sale of teething products that contain benzocaine

In addition, the FDA wants prescription local anesthetics and other over-the-counter oral-health products containing benzocaine to carry new health warnings. In the past, the FDA has warned parents not to use homeopathic teething tablets containing belladonna, a toxic substance.

So what should you use to help your little one cope with the discomfort of teething?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using teething rings made of hard rubber. Avoid frozen teethers as they can get too hard and harm your baby’s gums.

You can also simply take one of your fingers and gently rub or massage your baby’s gums, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But beware of those baby teeth. They’re little but can inflict a lot of pain.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is thankful that her child is well past the teething stage and has sympathy for all the parents with babies currently going through it.