Natural Remedy to Dangerous Baby Teething Gels

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

The FDA recently issued its third warning about benzocaine, the active ingredient in baby teething gels like Anbesol and Baby Orajel.

Under certain conditions, benzocaine can trigger a rare and sometimes fatal blood condition called methemoglobinemia which causes dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood with resulting symptoms of ashen, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips and fingernail beds, shortness of breath, headache, light-headedness and rapid heart rate possible.

Problems with benzocaine were first announced in 2006 and since then, 29 cases of methemoglobinemia have been reported 19 of which were in children and 15 of those in children under 2.

Another warning for the active ingredient in baby teething gels occurred in 2011.

The scary symptoms triggered by benzocaine in baby teething gels can occur within minutes or even hours. Methemoglobinemia can occur the first time the product is used or much later after several uses even when the child appeared fine previously.

Of course, if your child experiences any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately.

A better course of action would be to avoid use of these dangerous baby teething gels and utilize non-toxic remedies that are safe and effective with no risk of fatal blood conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a chilled teething ring or gently massaging your child’s gums with your finger as alternative ways to provide relief.

While these methods may seem safer, I personally didn’t want my children chomping on plastic or anything that might introduce another chemical danger like BPA to their vulnerable little bodies.

Massaging the gums does work but is not always practical if you are trying to get your baby to sleep and he won’t lie still due to teething discomfort.

Homeopathy Helps With Baby Teething

In cases where you just need fast help with teething pain, try homeopathic teething pills.   These tiny white pills are sweetened with lactose, a sugar abundant in breastmilk rather than white sugar or artificial sweeteners.

They also dissolve with no chewing, so even babies with no teeth can easily take them.  As a bonus, homeopathic teething pills are quite inexpensive like many homeopathic remedies I’ve used.

I can’t tell you how many times I had a crying, fussy child in discomfort from teething pain who calmed down and went to sleep within minutes of having a couple of these tiny homeopathic pills placed under the tongue!

My husband and I used to call homeopathic teething pills “magic pills” because of how amazingly fast and effective they were.  For any homeopathy doubters out there, the effect is not placebo either, as a baby who is still nonverbal wouldn’t even know what this meant!

So skip the dangerous, over the counter baby teething gels and other remedies containing benzocaine and other chemicals to soothe your teething child.

Try homeopathy instead.  Hopefully, you will be as delighted as we were with the nontoxic, effective results!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


FDA Warns About Benzocaine in Baby Teething Gels

Picture Credit

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Comments (70)

  1. Sarah Lenard Lancaster via Facebook May 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Hylands is great, but an amber necklace is the absolute BEST for pain relief. My 6yo was up crying at night when her molars were coming in (the baby was teething, too). I got them both amber. The baby slept by the second night, and my older daughter said her pain was completely gone.

  2. Cassie Haga Meadows via Facebook May 16, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I’ve used both baby oragel and these teething tablets on all 3 of my kids. I’m a nurse and had no idea about the danger of benzocaine.

  3. Jamie Lynn via Facebook May 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I used Hylands teething tabs for my baby. In fact, I use Hylands vitamin c tablets and tiny cold tablets as well. Its a great brand!

  4. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let
    you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.
    Many thanks

  5. Sarah–any thoughts on Succinic Acid affects from teething necklaces? Are the necklaces safe in terms of the release of the acid? The only info I’m finding is speculation. And everyone is concerned about the choking factor. I just want to know if the acid is safe, as apparently it is connected to Reye’s Disease from aspirin. But maybe not in the amber?



  6. I would strongly recommend that prior to posting information about the safety of teething tablets, that you do better research. Just becuse its “homeopathic and natural” does not mean it is safe. The FDA recalled Hyland’s and AAP has a warning about belladonna containing teething tablets. Belladonna is the basis of opium and dose amounts were found to be inconsistent between batches. Try infant tylenol instead!

  7. aaaaw just when I need it this popped bac k up at bottom of a page i was reading. Thanks. get this. she stated teething 3 weeks ago and is just getting really fussy

  8. Pingback: Can I Give Anbesol to a Baby? FDA Warning Suggests No

  9. Tricia Barry Kelly via Facebook June 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Thanks so much for the tip. Wouldn’t you know it, I bit my lip the other day and now have 2 canker sores that are killing me. I need to see if I have cloves in my pantry. Thanks again!

  10. I just nursed my daughter more when she was teething and didn’t really need much else. Good to know about the pulls though for when other Moms ask for advice :)

  11. My 2 y.o. has teethed without problems so far, but he’s got 4 more molars to go, so I’ll keep Hyland’s in mind just in case. Thanks for the great article! =)

  12. Hylands teething tablets are a great product! We used them with our babies. But we also had an opportunity to get some feedback from our older son, who took some for teething pain around age 6 or so! He reported that they did indeed help with the pain, and he asked for more whenever his teeth hurt again.

  13. Is the recall/stop in production on these teething tablets over? If so, hooray! I used them with my daughter, but just as she was getting molars there was a massive recall and they stopped making them. I remember there being valid safety concerns with Hyland’s equipment not measuring the tablet’s ingredients accurately. I hope they have gotten their issues remedied (since belladonna is not something you want your child having in more than homeopathic quantities). I felt these were the safest alternative for my baby and they worked well too.

    I just checked the Hyland’s website, and the stop in production IS over! I guess it is safe for me to have another baby now;-) I am only patially kidding–my daughter had a horrible time with teething. Thanks for letting me know, Sarah!

  14. I have recently introduced raw milk products into my family’s diet about a week ago. Everything has been going good until last night. My 2 and a half year old son vomited in the middle of the night out of nowhere and really scared my husband and I. We have been eating raw cheese, butter, milk, cream, and kefir. I made my own home made sour cream two days ago. I used the oven as a warm spot with the oven light on. I had to use the oven for dinner but I tried to make sure the oven was cooled down enough to put the sour cream back in. After I let the cream cool in the fridge, I ate it and I thought it tasted a little funny but my husband ate it and he thought it tasted fine. I thought maybe it was because it was my 1st time making and I needed to get used to it or something. My entire family ate the cream yesterday and by night time my husband had a little diarrhea and then my son vomited. I just don’t know what happened or what’s going on? You think maybe the oven was too warm and it killed the good bacteria and let the bad bacteria grow? I don’t want to stop using the raw milk products at all. Since going on the GAPS diet my husband has lost 25 pounds without even trying to lose weight and his energy levels have skyrocketed. My son’s face which had a little eczema is almost gone. Please let me know what you think. My son is acting totally normal and hasnt vomited today at all. A little fever though at 100.0. Me and my youngest, hes 1, we’re both fine. No diarrhea or anything. I know you’re not a doctor but you are knowledgeable in this area so I’d really like your opinion. Thank you.

  15. Sarah, thank you so much for posting this! My family has used these and I recommend them to my patients all the time (I’m a chiropractor). The same wonderful results I get from my little patients as you described here and many parents who now have a better night’s sleep. On a side note–we love your site and recommend it daily. We became WAP chapter leaders in January and so many people in our community are learning the benefits of traditional food preparation and eating. It’s wonderful to see the transformation!

  16. We use Hylands with our 3rd just as we had the first 2 and they work great. When I researched the voluntary pulling them off the shelf, it was due to process controls, not anyone actually being affected. But a couple months ago when my wife bought them at the local Hy-Vee, they told her she had to wait to talk to the pharmacist first. So he comes out and warns her how dangerous they are because they have poison in them, and do we really want our kids ingesting poison? She was so caught off guard, she didn’t know what to say. I would have loved to ask if he makes the same warning to everyone buying toothpaste with fluoride or warn people not to take their meds with tap water filled with chlorine and/or fluoride. Needless to say, we are using them especially since my 13 month old has 4 molars coming in :(

  17. I just LOVE those homeopathic teething tablets……it has worked wonders on both of my girls! It is an infant staple in our home.

  18. Rachel Stanton Jimenez via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Joy, I didn’t know about amber necklaces when my kids were babies but several of my friends swear by them. Plus they’re super cute :)

  19. Rachel Stanton Jimenez via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Joy, I didn’t know about amber necklaces when my kids were babies but several of my friends swear by them. Plus they’re super cute :)

  20. I am really glad I selected the notification box on follow up comments! So many great tips! I am going to try the coconut oil on a q-tip with ground clove. We use coconut oil for just about everything! And just to go into a little more detail about the teething necklace – We also got one by “Inspired by Finn” on Amazon. We literally had a different baby after just an hour or so of wearing it. I would highly encourage taking if off their neck for sleep even though that is when parent’s want the relief the most. Ours wraps around her ankle twice and fastens perfectly and we very rarely experience her waking up with teething pain now. It has been such a blessing.

  21. The problem with benzocaine is parent’s overdosing their kids. Same with homeopathic remedies. If you just read and follow the directions for all medical or natural remedies you use, you will be safer than ODing your poor little baby! That goes for herbals, homeopathics, advil, tylenol, benzocaine. Just use common sense, follow the directions, and don’t overdo any remedies! Babies should not need much medicine, natural or synthetic.

  22. @Tricia when my kids have a sore spot on the inside of their mouth anywhere, I put a bit of coconut oil on the end of a Q-tip and put a bit of ground cloves from the spice cabinet on the coconut oil (so it sticks nicely) and press it on the spot. Cloves relieves pain fast.

  23. Neglected to mention that paregoric was basically opium. Used to be easy to get, then we hd to sign for it, then it got pulled off the market.

  24. I would wet my daughter’s cotton washcloths with filtered water, roll them and fold them to look like a ring, then cover them with something and place them in the freezer. She loved chomping on these.

  25. Old days report: Paregoric was a very common teething remedy. When I was in college (1947) I couldn’t have gotten through wisdom teeth without it. Used it for my kids too. One day my litte Peter was on his back in the playpen and I leaned in to rub paregoric on his gums. I had put the little bottle in my shirt pocket and didn’t realize the cap was loose. As I bent over, a stream of paregoric poured down into his open crying mouth! I thought I’d killed him – one of many times I was sure I’d killed one of my kids.

    Paregoric was also an ingredient in a marvelous anti-diarrhea/flu medicine – 1 tablespoon worked in instants. I got really sick one time at one of my husband’s conventions. Took to my bed in the hotel but at about 4 o’clock I talked him into driving me to get some of the whatever-it-was and by 7 pm I was at the banquet and ate a wonderful meal.

    Can’t do either of those any more.

  26. There’s also an alternative for babies who are allergic to dairy–bc believe it or not, there’s DAIRY in Hyland’s tablets! why!? idk, but we were lucky to find Humphrey’s Teething Tablets which are dairy free 😀
    they are also magic pills. i stashed one in my purse, one in our diaper bag, my husband had a bottle with him… they worked WONDERS :) Our son didn’t like anything but me being in his mouth (no teethers, pacis, etc) so the tablets saved our sanity lol…

  27. I am allergic to Benzocaine for topical things. I had not heard of these problems. I am grateful for the allergy. I have steared clear of the gels for my children because of it! What about Hyland’s teething gel?

  28. Bethany, Hylands had a recall on their product after this incident. They were off the shelves for awhile, but came back. We used them on my daughter and they were wonderful. My son won’t take them. We don’t do the amber necklaces, no matter how well they work, due to religious/spiritual issues.
    The mesh feeders are a lifesaver, as I put frozen fruit in them, and they chew, chop and gobble them up, making the littles happy.

  29. When I was pregnant my doula told me that there had been a problem with the Hyland’s teething tablets, something about some tablets containing too much of certain ingredients and I think some children even died…I think it was the belladonna poisoning. We never used them; we didn’t use anything other than cold, wet washrags.

  30. Kate Tietje via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Yes, clove can work on babies but dilute it (see recipe above). This same cream can work for any oral pain issues, including adults.

  31. Did you know that Hyland’s teething tablets have belladonna in them? It is a sedative. Boiron Camilia Teething Relief does not – and actually works much better than hylands for my little teether! Also – I was late on the baltic amber teething necklace train! SO very glad I got on in time for molars cutting!

  32. Heather TenKley June 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Hylands’s tablets work great I used them on both of my sons. My sister in law came over with a tooth ache one day at I gave her some and it actually worked on that too.

  33. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I use clove oil when I have a toothache or a canker sore. Cloves provide pain relieve as well as being antiseptic. Would clove oil work on a baby or would it be too strong? I started using it after my kids already had their teeth.

    • I got my daughter an “inspired by Finn” Baltic Amber teething necklace and it has worked awesome!! Better than any homeopathic teething liquid, gel or tablets we’ve tried (including Hylands). I’ve lost it twice, and realized those times that it is a necessity in our house! :) You can sometimes find good deals on Ebay or sometimes they have sales on their website. The lighter in color and more cloudy the better.

      PS- We also do Rescue Remedy when her teeth are hurting and it seems to help!

      • Hi Samantha

        Different country and therefore may be a different formula, but the Rescue Remedy I have contains alcohol – worth checking to make sure you don’t have a happy drunk on your hands 😉

    • we are also huge fans of the amber necklace, and also ordered ours through inspired by finn. i was unable to buy hyland’s and ended up with a different brand. so far we have been underwhelmed with their effects, though i do successfully use other homeopathic remedies and am a fan of homeopathy in general. but when it comes to teething, i’m fairly certain the amber necklaces will always be the solution in our house :)

      • We also have bought amber teething necklaces from Inspired by Finn for two of my children. They work so well, and I really wish we would have had one for my first, who had a horrible time teething. I NEVER give baby Tylenol or Motrin to my kids (my second and third kids have never had it at all), but I gave it to my first all the time for teething, because the poor kid would scream from teething pain until he threw up. I remember a particularly horrible 8 hour car ride with him–he screamed the whole way, and his poor mouth was bleeding from the tooth that was breaking through the gums. I really wish we would have had an amber necklace for him at the time!

    • I have an amber necklace for my 15 month old and LOVE it. If I forget to put it in in them AM when he’s teething he will pull his ears and fuss, but that stops when I get it on him. I also do the homeopathy when it gets really bad and only one molar has really given us problems so far. I highly recommend the necklaces…got mine on Etsy!

  34. Becky Gutcher Hyatt via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Hylands Teething Tablets were nothing short of miraculous when my oldest was teething. I whole-heartedly recommend them!

  35. Annemarie Scolari via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Pulsatilla and hypericum work well, also. My daughter had terrible diaper rash from the Hyland’s, although it worked.

  36. Tricia Barry Kelly via Facebook June 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Thankfully my 6 kids are way past teething, but we do deal with canker sores occasionally and have used Orajel when they are really bad. Had not heard of those warnings, very scary. Do you have any recommendations for canker sore relief?

    • I used to get canker sores frequently; as many as one per month. It was terrible. Then I read that they can be caused by SLS in toothpaste. I switched to an SLS-free toothpaste and have had only one or two canker sores in the intervening eight years. Try it! You can get SLS-free toothpaste at the health food store or at an on-line drug store like iHerb.

    • I use a product called Ora5 which works excellent for canker sores. I’ve only been able to find it online. It acts as a liquid band aide but also heals it quickly. I have noticed that if the sore gets really red and irritated, when i apply the Ora5 with a Q-tip it does sting for a few minutes, but then about a half hour later, I could enjoy a meal pain-free! I also make sure i apply it to the very first signs of one forming, and it completely stops it from growing. There are only 4 ingredients: copper sulphate, iodine, potassium iodide and alcohol 1.5%. It really works well!!

  37. I use the Hyland’s teething tablets for my little guy and they work wonders!! He won’t keep them in his mouth though, so I drop them into a syringe, suck up a little warm water to disolve them, and then squirt it in his mouth :)


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