This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
Teething is not a disease, a morbid process, at all. But it is an important change, which for the time renders the child more than before or after liable to disorders, under any disturbing causes; and the process of penetration of the gums by the young teeth may sometimes itself be imperfectly accomplished. The most common and least alarming effect of the " sympathetic irritation " of teething is diarrhoea. This seems often to give a safe vent and relief to the disturbance of the system. Three or four, or even five passages from the bowels daily, at such times, are not objectionable; are much better than constipation. Convulsions are frightful to behold, and attended by danger.
Here, however, it may be suitable to refer briefly to lancing the gums. Healthy babies may often pass through their teething without needing to have their gums lanced. But some may be, by this simple and harmless means, kept from having convulsions, which, if brought on, may threaten their lives. Use a clean, sharp lancet, and divide the gum with a straight, firm cut; in the direction of the edge if it be an incisor, and across the crown if a molar tooth; and then there will never be any " scars " or other trouble.
It is well to lance the gums whenever they are much swollen, red, painful, and worryitig, to the child, making it nervous and hard to get to sleep; or when, even though not swollen, the tooth is evidently not far within the gum, which seems tense, and a source of irritation, calling for relief. Many a child, once helped by this measure, will ask for it, with looks if it has no words, to have it repeated.
A lesser, but not unimportant means of relief for worriment of the mouth during teething, is the use of rubber rings, bits of ivory, etc., smooth and firm, but too large to swallow, for the child to bite upon. When there is much heat of the mouth, a soft rag filled with pounded ice will, in summer time, do the most good.
At no time is it more needful than during dentition, to be very careful about the food which the child takes. Indigestion is a. very common exciting cause of convulsions.