Of all the erroneous ideas about the development of the baby, more are centered around the eruption of teeth than any other one part of the subject.
It is NOT true, for instance, that teething is very hard on the baby. It would be a great deal harder on the baby for the rest of its life if it did not teeth.
It is NOT true that teething is a particularly dangerous time, or that the baby is liable to be sick all through the teething period. If that were true the baby would be sick a long time, for the teething period lasts from the age of six months to two and a half years.
It is NOT true that the eruption of a tooth is apt to be accompanied by fever. It is even a very dangerous doctrine to hold, for the mother is likely to be satisfied with that explanation when the baby is sick and a really serious disease be overlooked. I remember once being in consultation with a very famous doctor who made that diagnosis on our infant patient and proceeded to cut through the gums to relieve the condition. As the baby still had a fever the next day we carried our investigations further and found that there was an infection of the pelvis of the kidneypyelitis–which accounted for the fever.
Nor does summer heat bring any more serious aspect to teething than winter. Since the first teeth come in at six months, nearly every baby has some of its teething during the first summer.
The two lower central teeth are the first to appear. If they are a little later than six months it is no cause for alarm. Sometimes they do not appear until the ninth month. At the end of the first year most babies have four teeth below and two above. An old rule to calculate how many teeth a baby should have is to subtract six from the baby’s age in months.
When the teeth are actually breaking through the top of the gums there may be a day or two of discomfort and baby may be cross and irritable. Also there may be a loss of appetite. Under such circumstances it is wise not to try to force it to eat.