What is Teething Gel?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Teething gel is medication that provides relief for infants who are cutting a tooth. As a baby tooth pushes its way up through the gums, it can cause mild to severe pain for an infant. It may also cause fevers, irritability, and an increase in saliva and mucus production.

Teething gel can be applied by using a piece of gauze wrapped around a finger.
Teething gel can be applied by using a piece of gauze wrapped around a finger.

Babies begin teething around six months of age. Their small bodies cannot handle the medications suitable for adult pain, and infant pain relievers can take a half hour or more to work. An infant in pain needs quick relief. Teething gel, applied straight to the gums, provides the quickest pain relief possible. Most gels work within a few minutes.

Teething causes mild to severe pain in infants.
Teething causes mild to severe pain in infants.

Teething gels come in a variety of dispensers. Teething gel most commonly comes in a tube. After cutting off the tip of the tub, the gel is applied to a cotton swab, gauze, or even a clean finger and applied to the gums. Another great applicator for teething gel is an infant’s toothbrush. These toothbrushes slip over an adult’s finger, and have several little plastic “fingers” on the end. They keep the infant from swallowing the gel, and are very soothing to the gums. Keep one in the fridge to provide extra relief.

Some teething medications come in a convenient format for on the go applications. One common type is shaped like cotton swabs. After one end is broken off, the medicine fills the other side of the swab, and is then applied to the gums. These teething swabs usually come in a small plastic case, perfect for diaper bags. Teething tablets, which instantly dissolve on the tongue, also are convenient for travel.

Parents have two options when deciding which teething gel to purchase. Medicated gels contain benzocaine. It is a local anesthetic, which works by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. There are also teething gels that use natural products to provide relief. These medications do not contain benzocaine. Instead, they use herbs to treat the irritability, pain, and inflammation caused by teething.

By two and a half years of age, most children have all twenty of their baby teeth in. Teeth usually erupt every three to four months during the time leading up to that. Because teething pain is such a common event in babies and young children, it is a good idea to have teething gel on hand. They come in fruity flavors, like cherry, berry, and grape. Teething gel is available in the oral care aisle of most department or drug stores.

Signs a baby is teething include excessive drooling and fussiness.
Signs a baby is teething include excessive drooling and fussiness.
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments


@MikeMason-- I'm not very fond of teething gels. I think teething powders and sprays are easier to apply. If you can find a gel spray, that might be better.

With teething gels, I think it's difficult to figure out the dose and you may end up applying too much.


@MikeMason-- I've actually heard good things about both kinds of teething gels. I think it's a personal preference and some babies prefer one over another. So you might actually have to try a couple of different ones to see which works best.

The medicated teething gels for babies are especially formulated, so they should not be harmful. Some parents don't like them because babies can swallow the gel and they think that's harmful. But if you apply it properly, the baby shouldn't swallow any.

Homeopathic teething gels are great too. They definitely work, but getting your baby to like the taste might be an issue.

I've personally used both kinds for my kids growing up and I don't have a preference. Like I said, if you can, get a few different ones and try them.


Should I get a medicated teething gel or a herbal one?

I'm scared that the medicated kind might be harmful for an infant. I would prefer a herbal one, but do those really work? I need something that will quickly relieve my little one's pain.

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