Between the ages of five and nine months the first two teeth appear the lower central incisors. It is an utterly mistaken idea that baby requires soft, "pappy" foods at teething time because his gums are tender.
Exercise for the gums is still of the utmost importance. From the age of six months the jaws can be gradually accustomed to munching and chewing. Give baby a bare bone (the leg bone of a fowl is excellent) to chew on daily, teaching him to hold it and what it is for.
From eight to 12 months he gains four upper central incisors, and at nine months he should be given a finger of twice baked bread to munch. Give this once a day to begin with, just before his 10 a.m. feed is a good hour to choose.
The giving of this type of food first at a meal ensures good chewing and munching exercise at the time when the child is hungry for food. After 12 months such food as twice-baked bread, toast, vegetables, raw ripe apple, fish, poultry, meat, brown bread, oatcake, etc., should be introduced gradually as the child is able to cope with them.
When the jaws are working hard the whole of the body is impelled into activity, the heart beats more quickly, the pressure of the blood through the blood vessels rises, and at the same time the digestive juices flow more freely, not only in the mouth, but also in the stomach and intestines.
In a well-developed jaw, with well spaced teeth, there is a natural cleansing action of the tongue and lips with the saliva which removes food particles from between the teeth after a meal. If the teeth are crowded, this natural cleansing action is difficult or impossible.
Use of Teeth
Nature provides teeth for use, and the natural use of the teeth is for chewing. We all know that any organ which is not fully used does not develop and tends to decay. The use of "pap" foods does not call the teeth into use at all, so avoid soft, sticky foods such as sweet biscuits, pastries, caramels, chocolates, etc. Apart from the fact that they do not give sufficient exercise to the jaws and teeth, they tend to lodge between the teeth, and particles of food left will set up decay.
Certain microbes which swarm in particles of food kept warm and moist for a considerable time have the power of forming from sugars or starches an acid which is capable of insidiously robbing the enamel of the teeth of its lime.
Once the enamel is robbed of this lime, so soft is the material which remains that it has no power of resisting the inroads of microbes, and once they have become established in a tiny pit or cave it is almost impossible to dislodge them, and naturally they are kept well supplied with food particles which would be washed away by the saliva if on any open, exposed surface.
Once through the enamel, these microbes travel readily along the ivory into the pulp cavity, producing acid continually, and the process of decay is comparatively rapid. Thus an innocent-looking tiny black speck, neglected because it appears so insignificant, may be found to lead into a spacious cavity underneath.