Teething Tablets Safe For Babies And Their Alternatives

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If your little one is teething, you may have thought of using teething tablets for babies at some point or the other. The teething process begins when the baby is six months old, and sometimes it may start as early as three months. By the age of two or two-and-a-half years, a toddler has a set of ten primary or milk teeth on each jaw, i.e., a total of 20 (1) (2).

Teeth eruption can be a mildly painful process, and sometimes there could be inflammation and redness of the gums. This may cause a few babies to feel miserable. As a parent, you would do anything to ease this pain (3).

The primary resort for most parents is teething tablets. In this post, we discuss their safety, ingredients, and alternatives.

What Are Teething Tablets?

Teething tablets or pellets are homeopathic formulations purported to provide relief from teething pain. Parents can place the dissolvable tablet under the baby’s tongue, where it dissolves and provides relief from teething-related discomfort and symptoms. You may also provide the tablet with a few sips of water to older babies.

Teething tablets are made from a variety of ingredients, which are mostly plants or plant-derived compounds. A tablet could contain single or multiple ingredients. The following are some of the common ingredients of teething tablets (4).

  • Calcium phosphate
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Chamomile plant
  • Coffee extracts
  • Modified iron phosphate
  • Silica
  • Sulfur

Are Teething Tablets Safe For Babies?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warns against the use of homeopathic teething products, such as teething tablets, since they could contain plants or plant compounds that are toxic (5). Teething tablets may contain plants such as Belladonna and Aconite that are highly toxic and fatal.

Teething tablets could increase the risks of health problems, such as seizures, due to their toxicity. The following are the common toxicity-related signs in babies.

  • Lethargy
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin flushing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Excessive fussiness

If you have already used teething tablets, stay alert to these signs. Seek prompt medical care if your baby displays these signs since early care could prevent any lasting effects of the toxins.

Safe Alternatives To Teething Tablets

The FDA encourages parents to manage teething without the use of any prescription or over-the-counter medicines (6). The following are some of the safe ways to soothe teething pain in babies and toddlers (7).

  1. Cold wipes: You can use a cold and wet washcloth and wipe the baby’s gums with it. The coldness has an anesthetic effect and may also reduce the gums’ inflammation (8).
  1. Massaging with a finger: Gently massage the baby’s gums with a clean finger and without applying much pressure to subdue the irritation (9).
  1. Teething toys: Cool (not freeze) a teether in a refrigerator for some time and offer it to the baby. Gnawing on teething toys can help reduce the irritation. Use teethers made of solid rubber and avoid those filled with gel or silica since they may accidentally rupture on use (10). You may use mesh teethers to serve small quantities of fruits to older babies. Clean the teething toy before and after each use.
  1. Frozen food: Offer frozen popsicles to babies who consume solids. Cold or frozen food has anesthetic effects similar to cold wipes. Cold food items, such as cold purees and yogurt, also work great. You may offer cold finger foods, such as pieces of vegetables or fruits, to older babies and toddlers (11).
  1. Distraction: Parents can also try distracting the baby each time he/she grows cranky due to teething pain. Trying a fun game or book reading could distract a baby from teething. You can also take note of the time when your baby is most fussy due to teething and use that time for an activity or take the baby outdoors for strolling.

Teething tablets for babies help them feel relieved from excessive pain and make them less agitated. However, you must know whether they require a tablet to ease the pain or not. Keep observing your baby to understand what they must be going through. Once you figure it out, it will become easier for you to help them by seeking the correct type of medical care for maximum relief. If you are still confused, you can talk to your doctor and clarify your doubts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often can you give teething tablets to a baby?

You should not give teething tablets to babies. FDA recommends parents and caregivers avoid using homeopathic teething tablets and gels in infants and children due to their possible side effects (6).

2. Can parents still buy teething tablets?

Teething tablets are difficult to buy in recent times as some manufacturers have ceased producing them and also recalled the medication from the market (13).

3. Can teething tablets cause vomiting and diarrhea?

Teething tablets have not been reported to particularly cause vomiting or diarrhea. However, the belladonna contained in these tablets may slow down the stomach and intestine and result in the deterioration of certain gastrointestinal conditions (14).

Teething is a normal developmental phase that causes discomfort, which is usually harmless. As your baby grows older, they are likely to become tolerant to any teething-related irritation. Parents can easily manage teething symptoms at home through simple interventions without the need for teething tablets.  If teething affects the baby’s feeding and sleeping pattern, speak to a pediatrician for safe remedies.

Key Pointers

  • Teething tablets contain various ingredients such as calcium and coffee derivatives and plant products.
  • However, FDA suggests avoiding these tablets due to possible toxicity and side effects.
  • Instead, you may try massaging techniques, teething toys, cold or frozen food items to soothe the teething pain.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Teething tips: New information for parents; Texas Children’s Hospital
2. Eruption Charts; American Dental Association
3. Teeth development in children; Victoria State Government
4. Teething (Homeopathy); Kaiser Permanente
5. FDA warns consumers about homeopathic teething products; FDA
6. FDA warns against the use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels; FDA
7. Teething; American Dental Association
8. Teething 101; Cleveland Clinic
9. Dina DiMaggio, Baby’s First Tooth: 7 Facts Parents Should Know; American Academy of Pediatrics
10. Teething; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
11. Teething Products; University of Michigan
12. Benzocaine and Babies: Not a Good Mix; FDA
13. Teething Tablets: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
14. Belladona; MedlinePlus
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Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate... more

Dr. Tazeen Raees

(MDS)
Dr. Tazeen Raees holds a Master’s degree in Prosthodontics and Implantology and is working as a Chief Prosthodontics Mentor at APJ Abdul Kalam Education Centre, Indian Dental Association, Mumbai. She has various national and international publications to her credit and is strongly inclined towards research activities. She attended an exclusive observership program in Kuwait Dental Hospital (KOC). Tazeen believes in... more

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