The do’s and don’ts of teething treatments

Dos and Don'ts

When a baby’s first teeth come in, it can be a pain for the whole family. Incisors usually break through around age 6 months, leaving parents and infants in sore need of relief.

Although a number of popular treatments promise to soothe sensitive gums, not all methods are reliable, or even safe. Here’s an overview of the best — and worst — ideas.

Don’t try this at home

Proponents of amber teething necklaces claim that the stones release a pain-relieving substance that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. However, closer scrutiny reveals no scientific evidence to back up those assertions – and the beads may even pose a choking hazard.

Another no-no is lidocaine. The topical anesthetic can be toxic to infants and young children, leading to seizures, brain damage or even death.

Tried-and-true methods

Rely on these proven strategies to give your child risk-free relief:

  • Massage the gums with your finger, after washing your hands
  • Hold a cool spoon to the sensitive area
  • Let your child chew on a cold washcloth under supervision
  • Chill pacifiers in the fridge before use
  • Give your child a teething ring to bite on

And, finally, just wait. Your child’s last teeth should come in by age 2 or 3, bringing teething troubles to a close.

Related reading:

Last updated: June 2017

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