Nothing adds more to beauty than white, sound teeth. However, when one tells a mother that it is her fault that "the children have such dreadful teeth," she will stare at you in amazement. None the less, it is a fact that for one child who inherits bad teeth twenty have bad teeth from preventible causes, such as wrong feeding, want of cleaning, want of medical attention, and, above all, lack of hard things to bite.
Our ancestors had good teeth because they gnawed bones, ate hard wholemeal bread, and other crusty food which, in the first place, encourages teeth to grow strong, and, in the second place, cleans them.
A healthy baby who eats at regular hours meals scientifically arranged to build up his bones as well as make him chubby will develop a good set of first teeth, but if mother always cuts off the "nasty hard crusties " when he is old enough to suck at them, she is diminishing his chances of growing a really strong set which will last until the second set is ready to appear.
Upon the food question medical advice should be taken. It must always be remembered that food which is nourishing to one child, to another may be absolutely unsuitable.
First teeth should never be pulled out unless they are really loose. They should be allowed to drop out of their own accord, because, if they are not, the jaw will shrink and the second set will be cramped for room, crowded, and will overlap. In many cases the whole contour of the mouth and jaw is spoiled for life from this cause alone. Consequently, if the first teeth decay they should be stopped just as carefully as second teeth. A mother should not wait till her child has toothache, but have the teeth examined every three months, so that decay may be arrested.
"Good-night sweeties" are evils. The teeth should be cleaned carefully at night and in the morning with plenty of water, a medium-hard brush, and powdered chalk. A very hard brush and strong powder which makes the gums smart should be avoided. The child should get into the habit of brushing the teeth with plain water after each meal, as Indians do, and the brush should be small enough to get round behind the teeth.
If these precautions are taken pounds will be saved on dentists' bills alone, provided always that the child keeps its health. Anaemia, indigestion, fever, and many other illnesses react on the teeth, but if the first teeth have been well cared for the second set will almost always be strong and sound.
Artificial waving is very injurious. The hair should be left alone till the girl comes out, and waving only resorted to then, if it is impossible otherwise to find a becoming mode of dressing. Children should wear their hair as plain and loose as possible in order that the air may get into it. English women, for the most part, during their schooldays are allowed to wear their hair flowing instead of having it confined in a plait, and for this reason their hair is better than that of their Continental sisters.
Every night and every morning-but especially at night when all the dust of the day is in it-the hair should be brushed for at least three minutes; and the mother should make certain that the nurse does this faithfully, as it is a ceremony servants are much inclined to curtail.
As soon as the child is old enough she should learn to attend to her own hair and take pride in its glossiness. This will prove a valuable preparation for the day when she has to put it up.
An excellent idea is to keep children's hair short, at any rate for two or three years at a time, and it is always a mistake to allow it to grow below the waist, unless it is unusually plentiful. If the hair be thin it should certainly be kept short, and in this case massage with the fingers-not harsh rubbing, but gentle kneading of the scalp-is advisable. This also should be done when much hair falls out, but in the case of children this usually indicates that they are run down and need feeding up.
Heavy, hot hats should always be avoided.
If felt or velvet must be worn, large holes should be cut in the crown, behind the trimming, so as to ventilate the scalp as much as possible; but light, porous straw hats are always better for the hair. "No hat" is a mistake; in summer the strong sun fades the hair and wrinkles the eyes, in winter the cold may give ear trouble and neuralgia.
Very dry hair should occasionally have an eggspoonful of some good hair-oil rubbed into the scalp, not on to the hair. This should always be done after the hair has been washed; it prevents roughness. If the oil is rubbed into the scalp, and only a small quantity used, the hair will not be greasy afterwards.
There are many excellent ways of washing the hair, and many injurious ones, such as with cheap shampoo powders or with soda. An excellent wash consists of a lather of warm water and shredded soap with a few drops of permanganate of potash in it. The French recipe for keeping the colour of fair hair is always to wash it in water in which a handful of camomile flowers have been boiled, using this to make the lather with.
Very fine golden hair is usually thin and weakly, but if it is taken great care of in childhood, it will be wonderfully improved.
If "tipping" the hair is never begun it will never be needed. Singeing, moreover, is by no means good for most people's hair. The hair should be cut straight off at the ends when it grows too long, but otherwise should be left uncut.
If the hair seems to fall out a great deal, a handful of the combings should be carefully examined. If they are all long hairs it does not matter much, and only shows that the hair-or the child-needs a tonic. But if short, young hairs are falling out it is a sign that something is seriously wrong, and the child should at once be taken to a good hair specialist for examination.
For a year before a girl officially "turns up her hair" she should practise putting it up at least once a week in the family circle. Hair requires to be trained to go in the new direction, and in America and in France it invariably gets this training. England is the only country in the world where girls wait till they are "out" to begin putting up their hair, and consequently go to all their first parties with the unhappy consciousness of a badly dressed head packed with heavy hairpins and always on the verge of tumbling down.
With a few radiant exceptions, English girls of the maid-less classes seldom find the most becoming way to do their hair till they are well into their twenties, and yet a glossy, abundant, well-arranged coiffure is one of the greatest charms a woman can possess.
No costly "transformation" or bought bunches of curls can ever vie with the brightness and lustre of hair which has been well cared for since babyhood.
The following are good firms for supplying materials, etc., mentioned in this Section Messrs. T. J. Clark (Glycola); De Miracle Chemical Co. (Hair Destroyer); Margarette Merlain (Bust Treatment); Oatine Manufacturing Co. (Oatine Preparations); A. & F. Pears, Ltd, (Soap).