Part 1: The Dangers of Treating Teething with Medication
When our children aren’t feeling so great, it is our natural instinct as parents to try and make them better. When it comes to teething, some parents are under the belief that giving a child a little dose of Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen is okay. The people behind these products certainly want you to think so, but studies show that these drugs can often cause more harm than good. Links have been found between both Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen to asthma, respiratory disease and decreased lung function in both children and adults. In fact, according to Dr. Palevsky, a respected N.Y. area pediatrician, these medications are not safe for human consumption.
What’s more, “Tylenol/Acetaminophen is toxic to the human body. It causes liver poisoning. The analgesic effects derive from the liver’s attempt to fight the Tylenol by releasing enzymes to break it down. A liver that is not healthy or that is overwhelmed by other toxins, or that has not been sufficiently fueled by food intake, can become overwhelmed and fail, leaving the poison in the body to cause organ damage and death… Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) accounts for 100,000 calls to poison control centers, 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths annually“(Markham).
Along with over the counter pain relievers, medicated teething gels and liquids should also be avoided. Why? Because most of them contain benzocaine, which “is associated with a rare, but serious condition. This condition is called methemoglobinemia and results in the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream being greatly reduced. In the most severe cases, methemoglobinemia can result in death” (FDA). “Benzocaine gels and liquids are sold OTC under different brand names such as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, and store brands. Benzocaine is also sold in other forms such as lozenges and spray solutions” (FDA).
As painful as teething can be, it is a rite of passage of sorts, that every human, since we came into existence, has had to endure, most without the use of modern medication to numb the pain!
Because we do want our children to be as happy and comfortable as possible while teething, here are some great, natural and safe options.
Part 2: Natural Teething Remedies
Amber Teething Necklaces*
How they work: The amber works therapeutically; as it is heated by a child’s body heat, the natural oils from the amber are released and absorbed into the skin. These oils are a natural analgesic (pain reliever) and help to calm a baby in pain.
Amber teething necklaces are made to be worn by babies and toddlers. They are short enough so that the necklace cannot reach the child’s mouth. Most have breakaway clasps and have a knot in between each bead so that if the necklace does break, which it shouldn’t, the beads will not spill all over. Similar necklaces are also available for adults to help relieve pains such as headaches.
What to look for: The most potent beads are ones that are lighter in color and that are raw and unpolished. Some people may be concerned that the unpolished beads will scratch their child; this has not happened with my daughter, as the beads really aren’t that coarse. Make sure that the necklace you purchase has a breakaway clasp and a knot between each bead. Also, make sure that you are buying the amber from a reputable source, as some sellers have recently been found to sell necklaces that aren’t all amber. Instead the necklaces are part amber and part plastic beads. If you are not sure if your amber is real you can perform one or all of these tests to find out: Identifying True Amber (though this link is great for learning how to make sure what you buy is genuine, I did not have a great experience with this seller, unfortunately). I purchased my son’s necklace from The Art of Cure; the quality of the amber they sell is excellent and beautiful. You can find these necklaces here: (the one in the link is a light color in its raw form – exactly the kind you want) The Art of Cure. If you are in Australia you can purchase your necklace from AmbeRocks and if you are in the UK you can get one at Amber Teething Necklaces!
Mommy Teething Necklaces*
These are necklaces meant to be worn by a caregiver, that a child with emerging teeth can use to teethe on. What I like about this is that because an adult wears it around his/her neck, if a baby drops it, it will not land on the floor, and thus, not need to be washed before giving it back to the child.
A product of Smart Mom Jewelry, Teething Bling is the original teething jewelry. Their products are non-toxic, phthalate, BPA, PVC, latex and lead free and all pendants come with a breakaway clasp as an added safety measure.
I really love these necklaces because not only do they look nice on, just like real jewelry, but my necklace kept my daughter happy whether cuddling with me at home or out at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. Here’s where you can purchase yours: Smart Mom Jewelry
Clove oil has natural numbing properties, and thus, many parents use it on their children’s gums. Because it is warming, the key it to dilute it first before putting it the gums. You can dilute it with olive oil and try it out on yourself first to make sure it’s ok to use on the baby, OR you can buy it already diluted. Companies, such as Soulful Earth Herbals, sell it diluted and mixed with wintergreen for use on babies’ gums. Amazon also sells many different brands.
The original mesh feeder was designed by a father looking to ease his child’s teething pain! Since then, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon by creating their own versions. I like the particular feeders pictured here; I have tried others and these are the easiest to open, to close and to wash. These are a great way for a child to teethe on something cold without it being plastic. You freeze a piece of fruit, put it in the teether and let the baby gnaw! The coldness of the piece of food helps to soothe and temporarily numb the baby’s gums. You can find these in stores selling baby products or on Amazon.
Natursutten BPA-Free Chill-It Teether
I love this company and love this teether; I find it great for when a baby first starts teething. My 10 week old already has his front two teeth visibly coming up and I hold this in his mouth for him while he gums it. It is filled with water instead of any gel-like substance like some cold teethers. It is easy to clean and it is made from non-toxic Eva plastic, contains no bisphenol-a, phthalates, or PVC. You can read more about it here!
Hyland’s Teething Tablets and Teething Gel*
Hyland’s provides teething products that are homeopathic. According to Hyland’s, their “homeopathic combination (Calcarea Phosphorica 6X HPUS for teething, dentition; Chamomilla 6X HPUS for irritability; Coffea Cruda 6X HPUS for sleeplessness; Belladonna 12X HPUS (0.0000000000003% Alkaloids)
for redness and inflammation) relieves the restlessness, peevish wining and irritability that accompany infant teething. Their products are free of benzocaine, parabens, and artificial dyes and flavors. I know that my children like Hyland’s tablets, because my son would, and my daughter will, ask for them (by pointing to where I keep them) when their gums were/are in pain. And, I found that my children would sleep better if I put Hyland’s gel on their gums before putting them down to sleep when teething. For more on Hyland’s products, please see their website: Hyland’s
Camilia by Boiron*
Camilia is a homeopathic liquid. It comes in tiny, individual packs that you squeeze into the baby’s mouth. The ingredients are as follows: Chamomilla vulgaris 9C HPUS (relieves teething pains accompanied by irritablity), Phytolacca decandra 5C HPUS (relieves painful gums), Rheum officinale 5C HPUS (relieves minor digestive disorder associated with teething) and purified water.
*I have personally use all of these products with both of my children.
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In addition to the above information, many parents have also recommended giving a baby a cold washcloth to chew on!
Markham, Laura. What Every User of Acetaminophen needs to know. Wellness.com. 3 July 2008. Web. 14 December 2011.
Palevsky, Lawrence. General Guidance if Your Child is Sick. DrPalevsky.com. Web, December 2011.
Tylenol Tied to Childhood Asthma and Allergies. August 13, 2010. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38690295/
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Safety Communication: Reports of a rare, but serious and potentially fatal adverse effect with the use of over-the-counter benzocaine gels and liquids applied to the gums or mouth. 7 April 2011. Web. 14 December 2011.