Teething is an important milestone that usually begins between four and seven months of age (1). The time for the first teeth’s appearance could vary among infants. Most babies have a complete set of 20 baby teeth by 30 months of age (2).
The teething period may cause gum irritation, which could disrupt the baby’s sleeping and feeding patterns. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), massaging the baby’s tender gums with a clean finger could provide relief (3). The use of essential oils for massaging sore gums is a general practice in traditional medicine. But, should you use essential oils for teething in babies?
Read on to learn about the safe essential oils to relieve teething pain in babies, the right age to use, and safety tips to avert any risks.
Are Essential Oils Safe For Teething Babies?
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians does not recommend using essential oils at all on babies younger than three months.
The safety of essential oils varies depending on its intent of use (colic or teething), method of application (topical or diffusion), and the baby’s age and health condition (4). Some essential oils could be safe when used for babies of a certain age group. Older babies may be able to use more types of essential oils than younger infants.
Nevertheless, the safety and suitability may differ among babies of the same age group. Therefore, it is best to consult a certified aromatherapist, essential oil practitioner, or pediatrician before trying essential oils for teething. An expert would tell you the right type and dosage of the essential oil to avoid any adverse reactions.
How Might Essential Oils Help Babies With Teething Pain?
Topical application or diffusion of essential oil may help babies with teething pain by:
- Alleviating the inflammation of the gums and subsiding their tenderness.
- Relieving the pain so that the baby feels calm and relaxed.
- Preventing or reducing infections that may occur due to gum inflammation.
You can dilute essential oil in a base or carrier oil and use it topically to massage the baby’s gums. Alternatively, you can massage the baby’s jawline with the oil. The diffusion of essential oil does not directly work on the gums but could make the baby with teething pain feel calm and relaxed.
Essential Oils To Relieve Teething Pain
You may consider using essential oil when the baby begins teething after the age of four months. Do not use essential oils for babies younger than three months since they have sensitive skin and body (5).
Below is a list of essential oils you may try for relieving your baby’s teething pain after consulting a pediatrician, certified aromatherapist, or essential oil practitioner.
For babies older than four months
1. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamaemelum nobile)
Research shows that the topical application of chamomile extract could relieve teething pain and irritability in babies (6). Mix a drop or two of chamomile essential oil to a base or carrier oil and rub it in a circular motion on your baby’s gums to subside teething pain. You may also dip a washcloth in chamomile tea and give it to your infant to chew (7).
2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
The fragrance of lavender’s essential oil has soothing properties, making it popular in aromatherapy. Smelling lavender oil could reduce pain in infants, and it might also relieve teething pain (8) (9). You may diffuse lavender oil in the baby’s room using an essential oil diffuser or leave cotton balls dipped in the oil near the baby’s crib.
3. Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill has anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe tender gums and alleviate teething pain (10). Mix a drop or two of dill essential oil with a carrier oil and rub the oil blend on sore gums.
For babies older than six months
4. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is popular for its antimicrobial properties (11). A study noted that ginger’s analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties were comparable to ibuprofen (12). These properties may help relieve teething pain. You may mix a drop of ginger oil in a carrier oil and gently massage the baby’s sore gums.
5. Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Marjoram, also known as sweet marjoram, is a common culinary herb also used in traditional medicine to relieve pain (13). You may try marjoram essential oil for relieving the baby’s teething pain. Mix a drop of it in a base oil and use it to massage the baby’s gums.
For babies older than two years
6. Copaiba (Copaifera langsdorffii)
Copaiba essential oil is popular in traditional medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties (14). Research highlights that copaiba oil also possesses pain-relieving effects, which may help relieve teething pain in infants (15). Add a drop or two of the oil to carrier oil before using it for babies.
7. Clove bud (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Clove oil contains a compound called eugenol, which is considered an effective natural remedy to relieve toothache in adults and teething pain in babies (16) (17). You may dissolve a drop of clove oil in a carrier oil and massage the baby’s gum.
Always use essential oils diluted in a carrier or base oil, which can be any vegetable oil (18). You may also consider using hydrosols, which are water-based extracts of plants, with a small quantity of essential oil in them (19). A hydrosol might be a suitable alternative to essential oil for some babies.
Precautions To Take While Using Essential Oils For Babies
- Consult a certified herbalist or essential oil expert before using essential oils for babies.
- Buy pure essential oils from a trusted source as adulterated essential oils increase the risk of adverse reactions.
- Look for specific information on the label, such as the plant’s Latin and common name, plant part from which the oil was extracted (flower, leaf, bark, fruit, seed, or root), country of origin, and extraction method. It is necessary to ensure product quality.
- Follow the recommended dosage and avoid overuse to mitigate any adverse effects.
- Dilute essential oils in carrier oils as per the prescribed dilution ratio. For babies and children, the dilution ratio ranges from 0.1 to 5 percent. Consult an expert to know the precise dilution ratio for an oil.
- Choose a carrier oil that is mild on the baby’s sensitive mucous membrane. For instance, fractionated coconut oil or virgin coconut oil is a general recommendation. Speak to an essential oil expert to know more about suitable carrier oils.
- Do a patch test for the carrier oil alone to rule out any allergies due to the base oil.
- Do a patch test of the essential oil and carrier oil mix to rule out the possibility of allergic reactions or cross-reactivity. If your baby has allergies or a family history of allergies and sensitivities, consult a pediatrician before use.
- If your baby has any medical conditions or is on medications, use essential oils after consulting the doctor to prevent possible drug interactions.
- Discontinue use of essential oil if the baby exhibits signs of sensitivity, such as visible skin irritation or uncontrolled crying. You can apply a small amount of vegetable oil or full-fat milk to soothe the affected area.
- Keep essential oils in tinted glass bottles and store them in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight, to preserve their quality.
- Diffuse essential oils in a ventilated area for no more than 20 minutes. Prolonged inhalation may irritate the baby’s airways. Avoid essential oil diffusion if the baby has asthma or has a family history of respiratory allergies.
Teething pain may cause severe discomfort to babies and may also be bothersome to the parents. Essential oils could work as an effective pain remedy for several infants and toddlers. An expert can tell you about the right oil type, the right dosage, and the correct dilution ratio to prepare a safe blend to relieve teething pain in babies.
2. Teething; AAP
3. Teething; American Dental Association
4. How Do I Choose and Use Essential Oils?; University of Minnesota
5. The Power of Smell; Kansas Chapter; AAP
6. S Ebrahimi and S Ashkani; A Comparison Of Chamomile And Placebo In Relieving Teething Symptom; BMJ
7. 7 Tips That Can Help You Survive Teething; Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
8. Research On Pain Relief In Babies; UNICEF
9. Farideh Vaziri et al.; The Effect of Aromatherapy by Lavender Oil on Infant Vaccination Pain: a Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial; NCBI
10. Shruthi Eshwar et al.; Comparison of Dill Seed Oil Mouth Rinse and Chlorhexidine Mouth Rinse on Plaque Levels and Gingivitis – A Double Blind Randomized Clinical Trial; NCBI
11. Julie L. Ryan and Gary R. Morrow; Ginger; NCBI
12. Farshid Rayati et al.; Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case–control clinical trial; NCBI
13. Fatemeh Bina and Roja Rahimi; Sweet Marjoram-A Review of Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, and Biological Activities; NCBI
14. Cláudia A.C.G. Simões et al.; Antibacterial Activity of Copaiba Oil Gel on Dental Biofilm; NCBI
15. Niele Matos Gomes et al.; Antinociceptive activity of Amazonian Copaiba oils; NCBI
16. Eugenol (Clove Oil); NCBI
17. G. T. McIntyre and G. M. McIntyre; Teething troubles?; Researchgate
18. Safety Information; NAHA
19. What are Hydrosols?; NAHA
20. Are Essential Oils Safe for Children?; Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
21. Safety Guidelines; Tisserand Institute