It was, until a few years ago, the almost universal opinion among civilized man, and it is still the prevailing opinion among most of these, that when an infant begins to teeth it is peculiarly liable to intestinal and other disorders and many deaths are attributed to this cause. Any disorder which may occur while an infant is teething is at once ascribed to the teething, and it is thought that the baby's illness is an unavoidable misfortune.

Never was there a greater mistake. The ignorance of parents, attendants and physicians is the real misfortune in these cases. For, sickness is in no sense the result of the process of teething. "Can it be supposed," asks Dr. Page, "by even the most ignorant, that the cutting of the teeth was an afterthought of the Creator, and that since the little ones generally come into the world toothless, this great mistake could be corrected only by a painful and dangerous abnormal process?"

It is absurd to even imagine that the Creator has inflicted the young with an abnormal physiological process which is dangerous to life. Cutting the teeth is a perfectly natural process and should not be anticipated with dread or anxiety nor blamed for troubles which may develop during the teething period.

Practically every child, from the age of six months to two and a half years, is cutting teeth almost continuously. It is an undeniable fact that most children cut all their teeth without any trouble whatsoever. But because the process of teething is almost continuous for a period of two years, it is practically impossible for the child to develop any trouble during this period, which is not coincident with the cutting of teeth. Multitudes of infants do become sick with stomach and bowel disorders during this time and mothers and grandmothers, and sometimes even physicians blame these troubles on the teething when the trouble and the teething are merely coincidental and are not related to each other as cause and effect.

In a few cases the child may be made temporarily irritable and fussy and may lose its appetite. This is especially likely to be so where the teeth erupt late and three to six of them come through at once. But it is due in most cases to over feeding. Teething does not produce any of the derangements it is accused of causing. These troubles are always due to other causes.

The common practice of rubbing an inflamed gum with paregoric is stupid. The drug possesses no local anesthetic action and can relieve the pain only if the baby swallows enough of this vicious dope to stupefy it.

A nipple dipped in cold water and placed in the baby's mouth and renewed every few minutes will give temporary relief. But the most important measure is to stop all food, save, perhaps, orange juice until the feverishness and fretfulness are passed. This will lessen the pain, reduce the inflammation and prevent the digestive derangement present in such cases from developing into a more serious condition.

Many babies cut their teeth, early or late, in rapid succession with little or no disturbance to them and there is no reason why all of them should not do so providing only that they are properly cared for and are maintained in good health.

Where there is slight inflammation of the gum with restlesness and discomfort, a reduction of the child's food will soon remedy this. It is my practice to take all milk from such a child and give it only fruit juice, preferably orange juice.

Yet there is a popular superstition that baby requires more and "stronger" food at this time. Dr. Page says: "I refer the backwardness of teething, that is, the delay and difficulty and sickness so common, in many instances to fatty degeneration caused by excessive feeding; and the consequent cessation of the normal growth of the body, including, of course, the teeth."

Most animals are born with a mouth full of teeth, but they usually also cut some teeth after birth, but without difficulty or distress. Children seldom or never have difficulty with their second set of teeth, due, no doubt, to the fact that these erupt after the period of forced feeding is passed. Among savage children the teething period is not dreaded.

In his Shut Your Mouth, Catlin quotes the Register General of England as saying that 3660 infants died in England each year under one year of age "from the pains of teething." At the same time Catlin could not find any evidence of Indian children dying from teething. A Sioux Chieftain told him that the children 'always seemed to suffer more or less at that period, but that he did not believe that in the whole Sioux Tribe a child ever died from that cause." The Pawnee- Picts told him their "children never die in teething."

After comparing the enormous quantities of milk fed to infants with the relative amount a man would consume, if fed as the infant is fed, Dr. Page says: "Is it to be wondered at that the alimentary canal, from mouth to anus, becomes irritated, and the whole body, including the gums, becomes inflamed, in the case of our food-salivated infant, whose purging wetting, nose- running, and drooling, attest to nature's efforts to get rid of the excess? And when, in due time the teeth ought to appear, they prove to have become 'stunted,' like the bones and muscles of the ribs, legs and arms, either through fatty degeneration or for want of the nourishment of which they have been deprived by reason of the inability of the diseased organs to digest and assimilate enough food. Nature is crying out for the nourishment impossible to obtain from undigested and unassimilated food--she cries out for growth--and there must be an upheaval, a 'cure'.

"When diarrhea or cholera infantum have purged and cleansed the body of its impurities, including more or less of the fat--when the cure is effected, or well under way, and the general growth of the body resumed, the teeth also resume their growth and begin to make their appearance. It is not, perhaps, strange, in view of the universal belief in the superstition, that under such circumstances the cause of the sickness is attributed to 'teething.' "

Dr. Tilden says: "The great sensitiveness of the gums in teething children is caused by the general systemic derangement. When these little folks are properly cared for, they will not be sick, and if they are not sick they will surprise their mothers by showing them a tooth every little while, without the slightest suspicion of any kind."