Parents of teething babies have been warned that many teething powders and gels contain “potentially harmful ingredients” including the drug lidocaine and alcohol.
A new study in the United Kingdom found that of 14 products examined, two contained sucrose (table sugar), six contained alcohol and six contain lidocaine, an anaesthetic used to numb tissue.
Researcher Nigel Monaghan, from Public Health Wales, publishing in the British Dental Journal on Friday, said there is little evidence that the products are actually effective in reducing teething pain.
The British Dental Association (BDA) backed his view, urging parents to be alert to the ingredients in teething products.
The study comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced in December that teething products with lidocaine would no longer be sold in supermarkets and high street shops, and would only be found in pharmacies.
The medicines regulator conducted a review that found products with lidocaine were linked with a “very small” risk of harm and there was little evidence they work.
Instead, it said parents should massage the gums or use a teething ring.
The latest study looked at 14 products, including Anbesol, Dentinox, Calgel, Bonjela Junior and Boots own brand.
“Despite a lack of evidence of effectiveness for teething products, of the 14 licensed products in the UK, nine contain one or more of sucrose, alcohol or lidocaine,” the report said.
“There is an opportunity to develop new guidance to steer health professionals and the public away from these potentially harmful products.”
The BDA said the products containing sugar increased the risk of tooth decay.
Meanwhile, exposure to alcohol may lead to poor sleep, while lidocaine was a risk in high doses.
“Parents buying teething powders to save infants from distress won’t always realise they’re offering their kids sugars, alcohol or lidocaine,” BDA chairman Mick Armstrong said.
He told parents “a teething ring kept cool in the fridge” is all that is needed to ease suffering.
Australian Associated Press