Introduction An internet search identified teething powders licensed in the UK containing sucrose and alcohol.
Aims To identify current UK guidance on teething and potentially harmful ingredients in teething products.
Methods Internet searches identified UK national guidance on teething and evidence on teething interventions. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency was asked to provide information on the sugar and alcohol content of UK-licensed teething products. The internet search also highlighted concerns about 2% lidocaine teething product use in the USA. Information on lidocaine content was extracted from product information leaflets.
Results A clinical knowledge summary notes the lack of evidence of effectiveness of teething powders, granules, pills or gels. Of 14 licensed teething products, two contain sucrose, six contain alcohol and six contain lidocaine, all potentially harmful ingredients. There is an opportunity to develop some new UK guidance drawing on extant teething guidance and the clinical knowledge summary.
Conclusions Despite a lack of evidence of effectiveness for teething products, of the 14 licensed products in the UK, nine contain one or more of sucrose, alcohol or lidocaine. There is an opportunity to develop new guidance to steer health professionals and the public away from these potentially harmful products.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.96 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Parents advised not to use unlicensed homeopathic teething products in infants and children. 2016. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/parents-advised-not-to-use-unlicensed-homeopathic-teething-products-in-infants-and-children (accessed August 2019).
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Teething clinical knowledge summary. 2014. Available at https://cks.nice.org.uk/teething (accessed August 2019).
Public Health England. SACN Carbohydrates and Health Report. 2015. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-carbohydrates-and-health-report (accessed August 2019).
Schuetze P, Das Eiden R, Chan A W K. The effects of alcohol in breast milk on infant behavioural state and mother-infant feeding interactions. Infancy 2002; 3: 349-63.
Menella J A, Gerrish C J. Effects of exposure to alcohol in mother's milk on infant sleep. Paediatrics 1998; 101: E2.
Little R E, Anderson K W, Ervin C H, Worthington-Roberts B, Clarren S K. Maternal alcohol use during breastfeeding and infant motor development at one year. N Engl J Med 1989; 321: 425-430.
Lamminpää A. Alcohol intoxication in childhood and adolescence. Alcohol Alcohol 1995; 30: 5-12.
Tran T D, Cronise K, Marino M D, Jenkins W J, Kelly S J. Critical periods for the effects of alcohol exposure on brain weight, body weight, activity and investigation. Behav Brain Res 2000; 116: 99-110.
Robinson C, Brookes S J, Bonass W A, Shore R C, Kirkham J. Enamel maturation. Ciba Found Symp 1997; 205: 156-174.
Smith C E. Cellular and chemical events during enamel maturation. Crit Rev Oral Bio Med 1998; 9: 128-161.
Mennella J A, Beauchamp G K. The transfer of alcohol to human milk. Effects on flavour and the infant's behaviour. N Engl J Med 1991; 325: 981-985.
US Food & Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA recommends not using lidocaine to treat teething pain and requires new Boxed Warning. 2014. Available at https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-recommends-not-using-lidocaine-treat-teething-pain-and-requires (accessed August 2019).
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Oral lidocaine-containing products for infant teething: only to be available under the supervision of a pharmacist. 2018. Available at https://www.gov.uk/drug-safety-update/oral-lidocaine-containing-products-for-infant-teething-only-to-be-available-under-the-supervision-of-a-pharmacist (accessed August 2019).
Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme. Management of Acute Dental Problems: Guidance for healthcare professionals. 2013. Available at http://www.sdcep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SDCEP+MADP+Guidance+March+2013.pdf (accessed August 2019).
Public Health England. Delivering better oral health: an evidence-based toolkit for prevention. 3rd ed. London: Public Health England, 2017. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/605266/Delivering_better_oral_health.pdf (accessed August 2019).
NHS. Your pregnancy and baby guide: baby teething symptoms. 2019. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/teething-and-tooth-care/ (accessed August 2019).
NHS Direct Wales. Pregnancy guide: baby teething symptoms. 2017. Available at http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/doityourself/pregnancy/Teethingteethemerge/ (accessed August 2019).
Patient. Teething. 2016. Available at https://patient.info/childrens-health/teething (accessed August 2019).
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. My medicine: licensing (marketing authorisation). Available at http://www.mhra.gov.uk/home/groups/comms-ic/documents/websiteresources/con025908.pdf (accessed August 2019).
About this article
Cite this article
Monaghan, N. Teething products may be harmful to health. Br Dent J 227, 485–487 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0715-7