Teething gels can contain ‘potentially harmful ingredients’, dentists and researchers warn

Experts suggest using a cool teething ring

Sarah Young
Friday 27 September 2019 11:41

Parents hoping to aid their children through the pain of teething could be using products that contain “potentially harmful ingredients”, dentists and researchers warn.

A new study of 14 teething gels, including Anbesol, Dentinox, Calgel, Bonjela Junior and Boots own brand, found that two contained sucrose (table sugar), six contained alcohol and six contained an anaesthetic used to numb tissue called lidocaine.

Nigel Monaghan, lead researcher from Public Health Wales (PHW), said there is little evidence that the products are actually effective in reducing teething pain.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has agreed and is now urging parents to be aware of ingredients in teething products.

Mick Armstrong, BDA chairman, said: “Parents buying teething powders to save infants from distress won’t always realise they’re offering their kids sugars, alcohol or lidocaine.

“Buying a licensed product should offer confidence you’re making a safe choice.”

Armstrong added that consumers are “navigating a minefield of potentially harmful ingredients” and demanded to see change in the way such products are licensed and marketed, with clear guidance advising parents of the risks.

“If your little one is suffering then a teething ring kept cool in the fridge is all you need,” Armstrong said.

The BDA added that products containing sugar increased the risk of tooth decay, while exposure to alcohol may lead to poor sleep and lidocaine was potentially harmful in high doses.

The study comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced last December that teething products which contained lidocaine would no longer be sold in supermarkets and high street shops, and would only be available through pharmacies.

The medicines regulator conducted a review that found products with lidocaine were linked with a ”very small“ risk of harm and suggested there was little evidence they work.

Instead, it advised parents to massage babies’ gums or use a teething ring.

A spokesperson for the MHRA said none of the products it licenses contain sucrose.

Futhermore, they added that alcohol helped prevent products spoiling and was on present in very low levels.

“It may also enhance the solubility of the active ingredients or facilitating the penetration of active substances into the gums,” the spokesperson said.

“To help babies and children with teething, parents and caregivers should try non-medicine options such as rubbing or massaging the gums or a teething ring.

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“If you suspect that your child has experienced a side effect to a medicine, please report this to us through our Yellow Card Scheme.”

A spokesperson for Boots said the product in the research was discontinued in January.

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