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Benzocaine is Not Safe for Teething!

Posted on August 16th, 2023

Wallingford dentists, Dr. James Dow and Dr. Robert Violette at Main Street Dental discuss benzocaine, a local anesthetic that is used to relieve dental pain, and its possible risks to children under 2 has been an over-the-counter local dental anesthetic for people of all ages for many years. It is available in most drugstores, often under product names such as Anbesol®, Orajel™ , Hurricaine®, and Baby Orajel™. 

Recently, the use of benzocaine has been linked to a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder that reduces the amount of oxygen being transported through the bloodstream to such low levels that it may even prove fatal. As a result of these findings, the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that benzocaine products not be used to treat children under the age of 2 without close supervision by a medical professional like Dr. James Dow and Dr. Robert Violette

Methemoglobinemia symptoms may present from minutes to hours following ingestion, including:

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, and nail beds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate

If you think your child is suffering from methemoglobinemia, take them to the emergency room immediately.

If your child is experiencing discomfort while teething, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you try soothing their mouth with a chilled teething ring or massaging the gums with your fingers. Chamomile drops have also been used by some parents as a natural remedy.

If you want to know more about benzocaine, the FDA provides consumer updates from time to time—and you can always ask us if there has been any new information as well. If you have any other questions or need to schedule a visit for your tiny tot, get in touch with Main Street Dental today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.


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