Friday, 11 November 2011

Dental Stuff- Amber Teething Beads

I was asked about these again yesterday.
Seeing as crystals and their healing powers don't feature highly in my practice, I did a little bit of research to settle my opinion once and for all, and I've concluded that like many other branches of alternative medicine, its a bit of a scam that preys on parental anxiety, and that someone is making a decent wad of cash from it, so of course they want to continue to sell them.

Dentists are pretty much universally known to be blood sucking money hungry leeches, so I would imagine if there was a shred of decent evidence to support the use of amber teething beads, some of us would be jumping on the bandwagon- especially if there was money to be made from it.

I know there is lots of anecdotal evidence out there that they are a godsend, but the scientist in me remains  unconvinced that they are anything but an expensive fashion accessory and a potentially dangerous one at that.
There isn't a single piece of scientific evidence to support the claims that the teething beads do anything near what they claim to, and I also struggle to see how they actually can work releasing any kind of acid at all given they are made from one of the hardest substances on the planet.
Apparently amber has to be heated to 200degC for it to release anything, and if it did release anything, how would you know exactly how much of the substance would be released? How do you know your child isn't allergic to this substance? What else can it do?

I found this blog which is a very good summary, and its well referenced which is essential for a health professional like myself to make any kind of judgement.

I didn't realise that some necklaces cost up to $90 (!!!!!!! yet some of the same parents baulk at spending $45 on a dental checkup?)

Have I used them on my daughter?
Our daughter has been pretty good with the whole teething process.
The two year old molars have yet to make an appearance, but we've got through the rest of the teeth without any magic beads or too much trauma.
I was more worried about the potential choking and strangulation hazards a string of beads on an infant poses, and would happily trade off a sleepless night or two for piece of mind in this regard.

Constant release of any substance into the bloodstream also concerns me (although I highly doubt the beads are capable of this).

 Paracetamol in low doses has been clinically proven time and time again to be an effective pain reliever, it can be controlled and measured and given at timed intervals, and very little adverse reactions have been recorded when the medicine is used according to its clinical guidelines.

My advice- save your money- there are lots of awesome kids toys that can be bought for $90. Or use it to buy a decent electric toothbrush.
The memory of teething pain fades pretty quickly, but the memory of toothache or a bad experience at the dental nurse can traumatise children for life- to the detriment of the rest of their dental health.

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