Research shows teething products may contain alcohol, lidocaine, or sucrose

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New research shows teething products may have side effects

A new study has found that all six teething gels licensed for commercial sale in the UK contain lidocaine at a 1% or less solution. (Photograph: GTbov/Shutterstock)

Wed. 2 October 2019


LONDON, UK: Though teething is a difficult experience for both parents and their babies, a judicious decision-making process should be employed when selecting a product to relieve it. This, at least, is the conclusion reached in a recent study regarding teething products in the UK.

The research examined all 14 teething products currently licensed for commercial sale in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The results revealed that two products contained sucrose, which could cause newly erupted primary teeth to undergo decay, as these products are applied directly to the teeth. Six products were found to contain alcohol, which has a number of potential side effects, including impaired motor development.

All six of the teething gels licensed by MHRA were found to contain lidocaine at a 1% or less solution. In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration found that the presence of viscous lidocaine at a 2% solution had been associated with 22 adverse reactions, including six deaths.

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In response to the research, the British Dental Association (BDA) has urged parents to be aware of which teething products could be potentially harmful for their children.

“Parents buying teething powders to save infants from distress won’t always realise they’re offering their kids sugars, alcohol or lidocaine,” said Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee Dr Mick Armstrong.

“Buying a licensed product should offer confidence you’re making a safe choice. The reality is consumers are navigating a minefield of potentially harmful ingredients. We need to see real change in the way these products are licensed and marketed, and clear guidance so parents understand the risks. If your little one is suffering, then a teething ring kept cool in the fridge is all you need,” Armstrong added.

The study, titled “Teething products may be harmful to health”, was published on 27 September 2019 in the British Dental Journal.

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