Sink your teeth into this: what amber necklaces and teething gels really do

Kinderling News & Features

Teething. It’s painful for both kids and parents. But what actually works for easing the pain? Sarah Hunstead, paediatric emergency nurse, author and host of Babyology’s new podcast, Ain’t That The Truth, shares the truth about teething.

Do amber necklaces work?

In a recent Facebook Live with Babyology editor Livia Gamble, Sarah answered questions in real time and help filter evidence-based fact from pesky fiction.

First cab off the rank was Laura who wondered if amber teething necklaces were safe – or even effective.

Sarah says that the theory goes that “there is this type of acid in [amber teething necklaces] that, when it’s absorbed by the skin, may reduce the inflammation that can be caused by teething.”

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But all is not what it seems: “That seems to have been blown out of the water by a lot of the studies … because the amount that can be absorbed by the skin isn’t actually enough to be able to have an effect. Which is really interesting.”

“What concerns me as a clinician – and certainly as with all the evidence that I’ve been reading against – is that amber teething necklaces can actually be a choking hazard. I have actually cared for a child who had an injury from the teething necklace. So I’ve got that experience but it’s not just the choking from wearing it around the neck, it’s also if they do have them around their wrists or their ankles that if it does break that those these can certainly be a risk of inhaling as well.”

It’s a ‘no’ from Sarah!

Is gel effective?

Another parent wondered if teething gels were a safe option for miserable bubs who were waiting on their pearly whites. While Sarah notes that these numbing gels are super popular, and that her own mum said she went through “bucket loads” of them when Sarah was a baby, their use should be carefully considered.

“There are loads of studies out there that show that, particularly the ones with the anaesthetic in them, they can be quite damaging to kids. One of the ingredients in there can actually stop the haemoglobin in your blood. So basically, you don’t breathe properly because you can’t transport your oxygen properly. And remember kids are little so they absorb this stuff more readily than what we do.”

Yowzers. Who knew?! If you’re pondering using a teething gel, research the ingredients carefully and have a chat with your doctor or child health nurse first.

Toothy q’s

There were lots of other curly questions covered in the chat with Sarah including:

  • How long does teething last?
  • When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
  • Does teething cause fevers?
  • How should you medicate a teething toddler?
  • How can you tell if a child is teething or actually sick?
  • Can teething give your child nappy rash?
  • Is ear-pulling a sign of teething?
  • How can I stop my toddler grinding her teeth?
  • Can I use icy poles to ease my child’s teething pain?
  • Should I worry that my child has no teeth yet?

Watch the video on the Babyology Facebook page to find out the answer to these questions – and many more!

For more research-backed real talk about kids’ health issues, Subscribe to Ain’t That The Truth, a Babyology podcast. Listen in through your usual podcast app, or online

This post originally appeared on Babyology.