Alternatives to homeopathic teething tablets and gels


Beware of those homeopathic teething tablets and gels. That’s the word from the Food and Drug Administration, which recently warned parents that the products may pose a risk to infants and young children. In fact, the agency said, consumers should immediately stop using the products.

But fear not. Parents who want to help their children cope with the physical discomfort caused by teething do have alternatives. Just because teething can’t be avoided doesn’t mean that children have to suffer.

Dr. Daniela Silva, chair and professor of the Section of Pediatric Dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry recommends the following tips for parents who want to help their little ones through the teething process with the first few teeth:

  • Provide babies with a firm, cold teething ring to relieve soreness. This technique has been used for decades – with no warning from the FDA.
  • Offer them a cold wet towel that has been stored in the freezer.
  • Try chilled hard vegetables and fruit (banana, apple, watermelon) – without any added sweeteners or sugar. These should be larger so as not to pose a choking hazard.
  • If your baby is eating solids, cool, soft foods such as applesauce or yogurt are good choices.
  • If all other methods don’t work and the discomfort persists, consider an appropriate dose of acetaminophen.*

Dr. Silva also cautions parents against assuming that all symptoms are caused by teething. “Many parents believe that congestion, sleep disturbance, fever, rash (other than facial), loss of appetite, and diarrhea can all be blamed on teething,” said Silva. “However, most of the scientific studies done on this topic report no statistical association between teething and these symptoms.”

Tooth eruption, on the other hand, can cause daytime restlessness, thumb-sucking, gum-rubbing, slight temperature elevation and drooling, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, states Dr. Silva.

“I recommend that parents first rule out other possible causes before attributing any signs and symptoms of a potentially serious illness to teething. Most importantly, bring your child to a pediatric dentist by age one for a preventive visit” Dr. Silva said.

To make an appointment with one of UCLA School of Dentistry’s pediatric dentists, please visit the Children’s Dental Center or call (310) 825-5619.

For more information about normal childhood teething, go to or the American Academy of Pediatrics website:

*The use of aspirin has been known to be associated with brain and liver disorders and Reye’s syndrome in children under 2 years of age.