|Dentition – The care of Infant|
There are no fixed rules governing the appearance of the teeth. Individual infants vary, and it is not unusual to find that the appearance of the first teeth is sometimes postponed to the end of the first year. Ordinarily, however, we may expect to find the two lower, middle, front incisors appearing about the sixth or eighth month; not uncommonly one of them will appear as early as the fourth month. From the eighth to the tenth month we may expect the four upper, front incisors to appear, and by the twelfth or fourteenth month the two lateral, lower incisors and the four first molars are likely to have arrived. The four canines and the four second molars follow from the eighteenth to the thirty-second month, and these complete the twenty temporary teeth.
The second set of teeth begins to replace the first at about the sixth year. The first four teeth of the second set, usually called the six year molars, do not replace any of the first teeth but appear in the space back of the temporary teeth.
The growth of the teeth is more or less dependent upon the nourishment the infant is receiving, and although delayed dentition is not a serious condition, it is usually wise to make some change in the dietary. Sometimes the addition of a small amount of beef juice will supply the elements needed, and in artificially fed infants it is frequently necessary to change the proportions of the milk formula to meet the required needs. It is oftentimes surprising to see how these dietetic changes will hasten the eruption of the teeth.
Too much stress cannot be laid upon the importance of the proper examination of the infant by a physician during this period. In many cases serious diseases obtain a foothold upon the weakened constitution of the teething infant, or are masked by symptoms which are attributed to teething. Infants in whom the first teeth appear during the hot weather are especially susceptible to serious intestinal troubles, and at this time the amount of nourishment must be reduced or gradually adjusted to prevent such complications.
Teething rings are useless and should be avoided, and the sensitive gums should never be touched, much less rubbed.
In older children it is of the utmost importance to have the first teeth cared for by a skilful dentist. It is not an easy matter to fill the cavities in the teeth of a child five or six years old and many dentists dislike this work, but it should never be neglected. The presence of decayed teeth in the mouth is a continuous source of infection, and the lymphatic system carries disease germs from these teeth to the glands of the neck and other parts of the body. It is a constant drain on the vitality of the child to overcome this poison, and a child so afflicted is seriously handicapped at a critical time of its life.
Children should be taught to brush the teeth thoroughly with a very soft brush and warm water after each meal.