The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that rubbing Orajel or Anbesol on the gums of a teething baby can lead to methemoglobinemia, a serious condition that leads to oxygen deprivation and, in extreme cases, even death.
These topical anesthetics sold over-the-counter for teething and toothache pain contain benzocaine, the source of the FDA’s concern. The risk is greatest among children younger than 2, the age range at which most children experience teething pain.
The FDA first warned about the products in 2006, with the list including Hurricaine, Baby Orajel and Orabase, as well as Orajel and Anbesol. Since then, the agency has received “29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia.”
Natural tips for soothing sore gums include a chilled washcloth or teething ring, rubbing or massaging the gums with pressure, and hard foods such as teething biscuits or chilled cucumber for gnawing. Always monitor your child to prevent choking.