Is Baby Oragel Safe?

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Baby Orajel is a familiar name brand on your drugstore shelves. This topical treatment contains benzocaine, an oral analgesic also used in sore throat sprays and nonprescription topicals for toothache, sore gums and denture pain. The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, cautions you that Baby Orajel and similar products for teething babies may not be as safe as you think.


Baby Orajel Facts

Baby Orajel claims to be the “Number One” teething medication used by pediatricians. In January 2011, there were five products in the Baby Orajel line, including the original Baby Orajel Teething Pain Medicine gel and liquid, Baby Orajel Teething Pain Swabs, Baby Orajel Nighttime Formula and Baby Orajel Cooling Cucumber Teething Gel. Benzocaine is the active ingredient in all of these teething medications. The nighttime formulation contains 10 percent benzocaine; other Baby Orajel products contain 7.5 percent benzocaine.

Possible Complications

Baby Orajel and other topical analgesics are not recommended by the AAP as a way to reduce your baby’s teething pain. MayoClinic.com points out that the numbing agents used in these medications can impede your baby’s gag reflex, putting her at risk for choking. The AAP notes that use of topical analgesics is also linked to local reactions, seizures and acquired methemoglobinemia.

Acquired Methemoglobinemia

Methemoglobinemia is a type of blood disorder caused by excessive amounts of hemoglobin in the blood, according to MedlinePlus. Acquired methemoglobinemia may be triggered by local anesthetics such as benzocaine and Xylocaine. Signs and symptoms of acquired methemoglobinemia include lethargy, shortness of breath and a bluish tinge to the skin.

Safe Use

According to the manufacturer, Baby Orajel is for infants 4 months of age and older. Don’t use Baby Orajel for more than 7 days unless instructed to do so by a medical practitioner. Stop using Baby Orajel if symptoms don’t resolve or get worse after 7 days or if you notice swelling, rash or fever. Don’t use Baby Orajel if your infant has had an allergic reaction to benzocaine or other local anesthetics ending in “-aine,” such as procaine and butacaine.

Better Options

If you use over-the-counter medications for your child’s teething pain, the AAP suggests oral pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give your infant aspirin. However, the safest way to make your baby more comfortable is to give him something cool to chew on, says the AAP. Suggested options include refrigerated teething rings or pacifiers; a cool damp washcloth; or a frozen banana. If you have questions about Baby Orajel or other over-the-counter medications for teething pain, consult your baby’s pediatrician.

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