Can Baby Orajel Cause Methemoglobinemia In Your Teething Baby?

Can Baby Orajel Cause Methemoglobinemia In Your Teething Baby?

Baby Teething Gel and Methemoglobinemia
©Jandrie Lombard/

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to an upset teething baby.  You stick some Orajel in the baby’s mouth and go back to bed for some sleep.  The next morning, you realize that your baby isn’t breathing.  Although rare, this can happen.

Teething BabyLast month, the FDA spoke out about a certain complication known as methemoglobinemia that can occur with Orajel and other popular baby teething gels on the market.

Methemoglobinemia occurs when hemoglobin (the protein in blood that carries oxygen) gets modified so that it can’t carry oxygen to the body as effectively.  Because we all need oxygen to survive, methemoglobinemia is a potentially fatal disease.

Any teething gel that contains benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia.  This includes such brands as:

The complication that can occur with baby teething gels is due to the local anesthetic, benzocaine, which teething gels use to cause a numbing sensation in your teething baby’s gums.

In their warning, the FDA states: “Methemoglobinemia has been reported with all strengths of benzocaine gels and liquids, including concentrations as low as 7.5%. The cases occurred mainly in children aged two years or younger who were treated with benzocaine gel for teething.”

In case you’re wondering, the strength of benzocaine in Orajel Baby teething gel is 7.5%.  Here’s the Drug Facts label for Baby Orajel if you’d like to take a look.

Symptoms of Methemoglobinemia

If you’ve used a lot of teething gel on your teething baby, it’s important to look for the following symptoms, which can be a sign of methemoglobinemia:

  • Pale, grayish-blue skin, lips, and finger/toe nail beds.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness

If you believe that your baby has methemoglobinemia, it is important to seek medical care immediately.

How to Prevent Your Teething Baby From Getting Methemoglobinemia

The best way to prevent your teething baby from getting methemogloginemia would be to simply not use teething gels.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that you can simply massage your baby’s gums or give them a chilled teething ring.

Looking for more ways to calm your teething baby without using Orajel?  Check out the article, Eight Natural Teething Remedies to Help Your Teething Baby.


If you want more information about Methemoglobinemia and teething gels, you can check out this news release from the American Dental Association.

It is important to remember that any drug that you give your child can have serious side effects.  Make sure that you are an informed parent by learning about each drug you give your child – not just teething gels!

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about methemoglobinemia and teething gels?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!



  1. That’s scary!! Thank you for this information; this is the first time I’ve heard of this issue. The tube of Baby Orajel that I occasionally use for my 1 1/2 year old daughter will be visiting the trashcan in the morning!

  2. Hey Tom,
    After reading more than I’d care to about teething I still cant tell if that’s what going on in my almost 5 month old. She is experiencing every sign you listed, but I dont feel any bumps on her gums. There is a very small whitish area in front on her gums- where her lower centrals should be. When I push on her lower gums they feel spongy. I can barely see her gums, she wont let you get in there to look. I will not use any of the medicines for teething for fear of death— but are there any teething medicines out there that are actually “safe” to use? Any help is appreciated!!! Thanks! Melody

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