The entire business of growing teeth is not a pretty one and it’s common for babies and toddlers to go through different symptoms of discomfort during this period of their lives. Naturally, parents wouldn’t want to see their children go through so much pain and, for that reason, they would dab some sort of topical anesthetic on their baby’s gums to dull the pain. However, researchers are now finding out that benzocaine in babies may cause more harm than good.
The Food and Drug Administration has just released a statement saying that benzocaine should not be used on children aged 2 and below. The reason for banning the use of this topical anesthetic on young children has to do with the development of a rare yet fatal disorder called methemoglobinemia. In 2006, 29 incidences of methemoglobinemia were reported which were linked to the use of benzocaine gel. Of the 29 cases, 15 of those involved children who were below the age of 2.
A person who is experiencing methemoglobinemia suffers from the modification of his or her red blood cells’ hemoglobin portion. Hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells, is in charge of binding with oxygen which is in turn carried to the different cells and tissues in the body. The problem is that when the hemoglobin is changed into methemoglobin form, the red blood cell is not able to capture oxygen the same way it could when the hemoglobin stayed intact. The change from hemoglobin to methemoglobin has to do with iron component of the molecule with the metal changing from a ferrous state to a ferric state.
The reduction in the oxygen binding ability of the hemoglobin severely effects the capability of red blood cells to distribute oxygen into the different tissues of the body, impairing proper cellular respiration. Some of the symptoms associated with methemoglobinemia include difficulty in breathing, weakness, headaches and confusion, dizziness, faster heart rate and pale to blue colored skin and nails.
Use of Benzocaine
Currently, there are two topical benzocaine products which the FDA has approved use of but neither of these two is indicated for use on children below the age of 2. These products contain a benzocaine component of 20 percent and are indicated for use to relieve pain brought about by minor mouth irritations, canker sores, and other injuries to the mouth caused by wearing orthodontic appliances and dentures.
If your toddler is suffering from teething pain, ask Central Dental in Little Rock, Jacksonville, or Conway, AR what they recommend to sooth the pain.