Is it safe to give your child Orajel or Anbesol?

Baby with teething toysThe FDA no longer recommends over-the-counter teething relief products that contain benzocaine, which is a medication that numbs pain. Though it’s rare, swallowing benzocaine can cause a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia, in which not enough oxygen is carried in the blood.

What are some ways that you can relieve your child’s teething pain, without using numbing medications like Orajel or Anbesol?

  • Give them something hard and cool to chew on. Make sure it is clean, and large enough they can’t choke on it, and supervise them closely. Some possibilities are a frozen teething ring, frozen bagel, popsicle, chilled pacifier or frozen wet washcloth.
  • Gently massage their gums.
  • Give them some over-the-counter pain relieving medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).  Always check with your child’s doctor before giving medication.
  • Comfort and distract your child. Sing a favorite song, read a book, rock your child, or gently message them. Breastfeeding can also help.

If you have given your child an over-the-counter medication that contains benzocaine, or if you have question about the risk of using these products, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 or chat online.

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