§26. Fever of dentition.

The cutting of teeth is no disease of itself, but a natural occurrence in the period of evolution. It is a stage in the physical development which marks at the same time the commencement of the intellectual life of the child. At that period the child begins to utter articulated sounds and to exhibit signs of rationality.* Life, in this period, is liable to the same dangers as in the other periods of development. If the irritation produced by the cutting of teeth be very violent, which will generally be the case when several teeth are cut together, a febrile condition is induced resembling so closely a synochal fever that we deem it expedient to speak of it as belonging to that class of diseases. In order not to scatter the various ailments occurring during the period of dentition, through separate parts of this work, we shall describe them all in this chapter.

* The great French philosopher, Charles Fourier, author of the Doctrine of the Universal Association of Capital, Labour and Talent, says, in his great work on that subject, that the period of dentition is the time when the soul truly conjoins itself to the body; previous to that time the organism merely vegetates and exists from the same general vital principle that sustains the life of the planet.

Not all the morbid phenomena occurring during the period of dentition, are directly occasioned by the rupture of the gums; these phenomena as well as the teething itself are developments which belong to one another, and are characteristic signs of a new period of life upon which the child has entered; the child's individuality becomes more marked and the child is less dependant on the mother. Upon reviewing the whole life of man we will find that every new period of life is characterized by striking bodily phenomena, in which not only the nervous system but also the mind is interested more or less, in such a manner, however, that neither the physical nor the mental phenomena can be said to be either essential or accidental, primary or secondary.

The same remark applies to the cutting of teeth and to the phenomena accompanying that process. These phenomena are at times of a nervous, at times of a febrile nature, sometimes they are mixed. But whether nervous or febrile, they, as well as all other infantile diseases, are easily recognised by the parents or the"physician, and the symptoms are generally so well marked that it is much easier to select a specific remedy for the diseases of children than for those of full-grown persons, which may partly be owing to the children's mode of life being much more simple than that of full-grown persons.

The phenomena of teething occur in the period from the fifth to the fifteenth or sixteenth month. The border of the jaw which requires to be pierced, gradually enlarges and becomes indented as it were, the child's mouth fills with water, the hand is frequently and quickly carried into the mouth, or hard substances are pushed into it to bite them, the mouth is hot, the child does not like the inner mouth to be touched, utters frequent and sudden cries as if in distress; the gums are swollen, whitish, especially so along the edges, as if a tooth were shining through, they become hot and painful. These symptoms are most frequently accompanied by diarrhoea, which, however, is a natural derivative means, and the best preventive against fever, cerebral affections, spasms; in some cases constipation occurs instead of diarrhoea; fever, cutaneous eruptions, heat of the head, cough, rattling, difficult respiration, spasms, convulsions, inflammation of the brain or lungs, may likewise occur.

In order to be able to judge correctly whether the phenomena accompanying dentition constitute an essential portion of that process in the case which we are called upon to treat, the physician ought to possess a correct knowledge of the course and the character of the teething process. It is of course to be presumed that every physician possesses that knowledge; however, in order to be complete, we will give a short description of the phenomena of teething in the subjoined paragraph.

The teeth begin to be formed a few months before the child is born. The tooth forms by a process of crystallization out of a jelly-like substance contained in membranous sacs in the jaws. The formation of the teeth generally commences in the fifth month. This is the internal development of the tooth which is not perceptible to the senses, its internal growth, extension in every direction and consequent nervous irritation. First appears the middle pair of the incisors; the outer pair appears later; the first molar teeth are cut towards the end of the first year; the cuspidati at the end of the second year, and lastly the second molar teeth. The more regular, successive and retarded the cutting of the teeth, the less are the sufferings of the patient. The corresponding teeth on both sides are not cut at the same time, generally the lower teeth are cut first. - The symptoms abate and then recur again at intervals, they cease entirely as soon as the tooth is cut, increase in violence if the cutting do not take place, and frequently become fatal, convulsions, apoplexy and suffocation supervening.

§ 27. The ailments occasioned by a natural dentition do not require any medicine; parents who are disposed to be very anxious, might perhaps be desirous of having some medicine given to their children. The erethism which generally accompanies dentition is most easily subdued by a few doses of Coffea cruda. This remedy may however remain without any effect if the mother or the child should have been in the habit of using coffee as their daily beverage. In such a case Aconite and afterwards Chamomilla would deserve the preference. A flow of saliva, loose stool or diarrhoea, which generally accompany the cutting of teeth, do not require any treatment; those symptoms disappear as soon as the cutting is accomplished.