The teething process can be difficult for both parents and young ones alike. It’s only natural that parents want to protect their children from anything that might be causing them pain ‒ but they don’t always want to treat the problem with pharmaceuticals.
So, many parents look for homeopathic, all-natural solutions for their toddler’s teething problem.
Recently, dental professionals have noticed the growing trend of parents are treating their toddler’s gum pain with a natural teething necklace. Let’s take a closer look at what this alternative ‘healing’ method entails.
Natural teething necklaces are abundantly available and can be purchased for about $20 from boutiques and big-box stores alike.
Part of the reason these necklaces are making such a big splash on the market is that several celebrities have been proponents of the product.
The necklace is made of something called Baltic amber, which was formed over 45 million years ago. It’s an organic fossil resin that’s produced by pine trees native to northern Europe and the Baltic Sea. This unique amber has been used since ancient times as both an ingredient in perfumes and in folk medicine.
People who believe in the healing properties of Baltic amber claim it soothes teething symptoms because it releases succinic acid. Apparently, the substance is absorbed as an analgesic through a child’s skin.
In short, no. There’s no scientific data that can prove these necklaces are useful in any way as treatments. Conversely, research suggests that this homeopathic healing device actually does much more harm than good.
Upon even the most surface-level investigation, you’ll find that succinic acid won’t be dispersed from your child’s necklaces unless it’s heated at 200 Celsius.
Furthermore, these necklaces are safety hazards.
What’s worse, young children have been strangled by these necklaces. The FDA has warned the public about these amber necklaces, pointing out that they can lead to choking, strangulation, mouth injuries, or infection.
If the piece of jewelry breaks, a small bead might enter a toddler’s airway, causing them to choke. It’s also possible that the necklace can get caught on a child’s crib then wrap too tightly around their neck, causing strangulation.
Then, the jewelry might cut toddlers’ gums – which can lead to an infection.
For further context, studies by researchers from Nova Scotia tested the strangulation risk of 15 amber teething necklaces purchased from retailers in Canada. Their results showed that nearly half failed to open after applying 15 pounds of force for 10 seconds, which is an industry-standard.
It’s always challenging to tell parents they’re doing something wrong with raising their children.
Therefore, when you notice a toddler wearing a teething necklace or a parent informs you that they’re utilizing the method, be sensitive to their situation.
Still, as a professional, you can inform them of the dangers that we’ve discussed above. In many cases, most parents will realize your advice is coming from a good place, so they’ll likely take immediate action.
You must provide these parents with a list of viable alternatives. After all, it’s unfair to drop a bomb about the teething necklace with no other solutions in mind.
Here are some practical alternatives to a teething necklace:
While we do understand any hesitation about traditional medicine for children, a mild pain reliever won’t do any harm when given to a toddler sparingly.
Parents can go to unusual lengths to protect their children from pain. Sometimes they hear about alternative treatments that sound too enticing to pass up.
After all, an ancient analgesic with healing powers catered specifically to teething pain makes for an enticing proposition.
However, as an informed dental professional, you must discourage parents from purchasing these necklaces. It’s then equally as crucial that you provide viable alternatives to help with teething pain symptoms, so parents can take comfort in your care for their toddler.
Dentistry is as noble a profession as it gets, filled with some of the most caring people on earth. Still...it’s always taken a special kind of human to look someone in the eye, tell them to open wide and then courageously yank their teeth out!
Visiting the dentist is no longer something most people lose sleep over...however, the same cannot be said of decades gone by. The age-old practice of the tooth has changed so much thanks to modern medicine and state of the art machinery. Dentistry has not always been so painless!
Let’s dig in to the long, rich and occasionally painful history of dentistry, including a few fun facts you probably didn’t learn in hygiene school.
These gentlemen were known as barber-surgeons. It may seem quite barbaric to have the local barber extracting teeth and bloodletting, but it made sense in the medieval times, since it left more doctors available to attend to the war wounded.
Nothing quite like getting your wisdom teeth carved out with the same blade you were just shaved with!
The ancient Mayans used to bejewel their teeth by chipping at them and embedding small gemstones with glue. Although the outcome would be a dazzling and mesmerizing smile, the process was certainly not for the faint of heart.
In the industry today, this ancient practice by the Mayans isn’t too far from the modern practice of bejeweling your teeth...without the gruesome chipping part, of course. Nowadays, they’re called tooth gems, which some people use to give an extra shine to their smile.
The need to maintain dental hygiene is not a 21st century phenomenon. In ancient times, people would snap a supple twig and chew the edges to spread out the fibers. Even today, some people prefer the twig toothbrush over the conventional toothbrush.
The Europeans used a rag and salt or soot for brushing their teeth until the English inventor William Addis invented toothbrush. This was in 1780 but by 1498, Chinese artisans had invented the toothbrush as we know it by using animal hair as bristles.
If you’re feeling naturally inclined to use a twig toothbrush, then you can consider trying a twig from the toothbrush tree.
Archigenes was a tooth doctor back in 15 A.D Rome. His idea of anesthesia for dental works was ointment made from hair-raising ingredients including roasted earthworms, spikenard and spider's crushed eggs. He would drill into your tooth then apply the ointment to relieve pain.
It’s hard to imagine that ointment would actually reduce pain, yet it was widely used ‒ maybe the sheer shock of having dead spider babies smeared on your gums was enough to kill the pain?
What does an electric chair have to do with teeth? Well, luckily not much...other than the fact that the inventor of the electric chair was also a dentist by profession and a professor who taught dental medicine at the then-University of Buffalo School of dental medicine in New York.
The good news is that he invented the electric chair in the mid 1800s specifically for the purpose of execution and not dentistry. It’s a mild relief knowing that Southwick had no intention of experimenting the efficacy of electric current on tooth cavities.
You might know that the dentist attending to the first president of the United States, George Washington, invented a foot engine to power his dentist's drill.
What you might not have known is that he used his mother’s spinning wheel making it into a torque to power the drill!
Until the year 1960, dentists were expected to do everything while attending to their patients. They would handle every procedure and tool on their own with no assistance! The result was weary and lonely dentists.
This continued until four-handed dentistry was introduced, providing two extra hands (and a lot of camaraderie!) to help.
...Just kidding! Of course that was never true. But for a time, that’s what people really believed.
After all, worms drill holes, and tooth decay is characterized by holes in teeth. This was a logical conclusion at the time. This old explanation for tooth decay was so believable it carried on in many cultures until the 1900s.
Today, we’re thankful for miracles like Novacaine and other tools and treatments that make your life (and the lives of your patients) easier. But we should also be thankful reflecting back on the dentists of old. Though they may have been misguided at times, they’re the ones who made it possible for us to offer the quality of care we can today!