Lidocaine Is Not For Teething

During the first few years of children’s lives, all of their baby teeth will push through the gums, often causing an uncomfortable sensation referred to as teething.

Debra Duffy DDS PA cute baby with drool bib

Teething can be very uncomfortable for infants and toddlers. Some of the symptoms that indicate your child might be teething include:

  • Drooling
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Biting behavior
  • Refusing food
  • Sleep problems
  • Low-grade fever
  • Wakefulness
  • Ear pulling
  • Cheek rubbing

If you aren’t sure if your baby is teething or experiencing other health concerns, always check with your pediatrician first and schedule a dental checkup as soon a new tooth appears.


All good parents want to ease their child’s discomfort as much as possible, but there is one treatment that has been deemed a bad idea by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): the use of lidocaine for teething.

Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that’s typically used to treat mouth sores or irritated throats following certain medical procedures. Note that lidocaine is “not approved to treat teething pain, and use in infants and young children can cause serious harm, including death,” according to a statement made by the FDA.

The FDA suggests not using any topical pain relievers in the treatment of teething pain because they can also be potentially harmful. What’s wrong with them? It’s found that they can cause a rare but serious condition – known as methemoglobinemia – which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen being carried through the bloodstream.

Treatment Options

On the bright side, there are some great treatments to offer your infant or child who is suffering from teething pain that don’t require any kind of medication.

Here is a short list of four at-home treatment options that we recommend to help ease some of the symptoms:

  1. Something cool – use a chilledteething ring or cold, clean washcloth to soothe your baby’s gums. Do not freeze a teething ring or use anything that is frozen because the extreme cold can actually be harmful. Freezing a teething ring can cause a torn seam due to the expanding fluid. Although not toxic, this fluid is not something you want your baby ingesting.
  2. Massaging – use a clean finger, moistened gauze, or damp washcloth to ease the discomfort through a gentle massaging action on the gums, face, or jaw.
  3. Teething toys – there are some “toys” that are specifically designed for teething babies that are safe, non-toxic, and effective.
  4. Dry cloth – use a dry cloth to gently pat-dry the drool from your baby’s face and neck. An excessive amount of drooling can cause a painful rash on your baby’s skin, creating an even bigger problem.

If you have any concerns about your child’s health, we always recommend seeing your pediatrician first.

If you have questions about your child’s teething process or any questions about their oral health, we’d love to hear from you!

A Healthy Mouth is a Happy Mouth!

~Dr. Duffy


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