FDA Issues Warning on Gum Numbing Gel for Infants

Parents have long used topical anesthetics with Lidocaine Viscous to numb a baby’s gums during teething, but on June 26, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration issued a strong warning against prescription products containing 2 percent Lidocaine Viscous and discouraged using over the counter brands as well.

“It’s been shown that when too much Lidocaine Viscous gets swallowed it can cause seizures, brain injuries and problems with the heart,” says Traverse City dentist Dr. Peter Piché. The FDA’s review also found cases in which infants died following use of the prescription strength product. “The problem comes when too much is given,” Piché says. “The husband gives it, and the mom doesn’t know that, so she gives more. The product is flavored, so the baby is intentionally licking his gums and swallowing the medicine.”

The FDA’s announcement says, “We are requiring a new Boxed Warning, FDA’s strongest warning, to be added to the drug label to highlight this information.”

Back in 2011 the FDA issued infant and child warnings about using common over-the-counter gum numbing gels that contain benzocaine, products such as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, and various store brands.

“Parents should know that teething pain is a short term thing. It will pass,” Piché says. As alternatives to pain-killing medicine, he suggests water-filled teething rings that are chilled but not frozen and massaging the gums.

Read the FDA warning.