Teething Medicine: Oragel Alternatives
Now that my son is 11 months old, he has just cut another couple teeth, and it has been miserable for him as usual. He's come down with ear infection, and a cold that includes a sore throat, and I can hardly know what to do to help my sweet little boy who has turned into a whiny little bundle of misery. Especially with all the warnings about pain relievers.
First there is the absolutely no aspirin rule, because of the risk of Reye's Syndrome, an extremely dangerous reaction to aspirin taken during viral infections primarily. Reye's Syndrome symptoms include vomiting, listlessness, aggressiveness, and confusion, and require immediate hospitalization.
The warnings about tylenol are more recent but also worrisome and include warnings about liver failure with tylenol. Now, of course we know that some parents think acetaminophen is the answer to any baby ailment and dole it out freely for things it couldn't even possibly help. This would be where liver failure would be more likely to happen. Acetiminophen is in fact a very strong pain reliever for children, not a cure all for any little thing, and even just taking the recommended dose for an extended number of days (10 days) can bring on liver failure.
Then there is Ibuprofen (Motrin), which relieves pain and fever similar to acetaminophen (Tylenol), stays active in the body for longer than tylenol, and relieves inflammation (swelling and redness). This pain reliever is usually recommended for teething pain and ear infections because of the painful inflammation associated with them. Warnings on Ibuprofen include stomach ulcers and bleeding if given more than the recommended dosing or for an extended period of time. There are also rare serious allergic reactions to Motrin which include severe pain and rash. Also, since it works for so long at a time (6-8 hours) you should never give it to infants under 6 months old, as it could easily mask symptoms of severe illness.
Topical Teething Gels Better Than OragelFor teething, the main topical pain reliever available is OraGel, which uses Benzocain and works by numbing the area for 15 minutes or so. The problem I have found with Oragel, is that it is unpleasant for baby to have it applied and makes an uncomfortable tingling sensation and funny taste in the mouth before numbing it completely. Also, the worst part, is that once numb, they cannot feel anything, and often bite their tongue. Luckily I discovered this before my son cut his first teeth, so that he only gave himself small blood blisters from grinding his tongue between his gums, rather than actually biting through it. They were, however, obviously painful to him once the oragel wore off.
Natural Teething Ointment/Gel Vs Oragel: Natural is BetterThen a friend introduced me to a natural homeopathic teething remedy, which is available in meltaway tablets or gel ( she used the tablets, I use the gel) called Hyland's. It uses natural ingredients to relieve pain and swelling, help cutting teeth come through, and help baby sleep if he or she is tired and restless from teething. You can also apply it every 15 minutes instead of 4 times a day like Oragel. It works well for my baby, and the best part is he isn't compelled to bruise his tongue when I use it on him.
In addition to the Hyland's Teething Gel, because of the sore throat and ear infection which prevent him from eating or doing anything except cry, really, I have also been switching between Tylenol and Motrin to keep his pain level under control, using Motrin first, and then 6-8 hours later giving a dose of Tylenol, and then 4 hours later a dose of Motrin again. I am hoping this lessens the danger of overusing either of them, which seems to be the recommended way to do it also.
At least once a day, I let a dose run out for an hour or more to see how his condition is without any pain relievers, to make sure there isn't a fever developing or if his pain level has gone down. Ear infections need antibiotics if they don't go away within three days or get worse and develop a fever or other bad symptoms, so these things have to be checked for before masking the symptoms with pain relievers again.
If your child bites his or her tongue while using Oragel, I highly suggest trying out the Hyland's brand of teething relief remedies. They come in small tablets you place under their tongue, or gel you rub on like Oragel. Either one works well.