FDA issues benzocaine warning

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in May recommending parents not to use teething products that contain benzocaine in infants and children younger than 2 years.

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that is used to relieve pain. It can be found in most drugstores, usually under the product names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase. Benzocaine has been associated with a rare but serious — and sometimes fatal — condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced.

Because of that association, the Food and Drug Administration advises parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for children younger than 2, except under the advice and supervision of a health care professional.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia can occur minutes to hours after ingestion and include:

• pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips and nail beds

• shortness of breath

• fatigue

• confusion

• headache

• light-headedness

• rapid heart rate

If you or anyone in your care has any of these symptoms after using benzocaine, the FDA advices you to stop using the product immediately and to seek medical help by calling 911. 

The American Dental Association’s consumer website MouthHealthy.org offers advice for parents who have babies that are teething. The site also features a Symptom Checker that can help patients identify possible oral health conditions.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

More Articles You May Like

Bringing education and smiles to children in need worldwide

Bright Smiles, Bright Futures

Top Tips for Good Oral Care During Childhood

  • Brushing and flossing
    Begin using toothpaste to brush your child's teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.

  • Dental visit
    New parents often ask, "When should my child first see a dentist?” Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.

Brushing can be fun!

Brushing teeth with kids toothpastes and toothbrushes can be a fun activity. Check out our products to choose the one right for your child