-The causes of decay of the teeth are partly constitutional, and partly arising from neglect. In families where the teeth decay early, the coming generation may be protected by careful treatment of their parents. Child-bearing women should be very careful to eat such articles of food as contain sufficient lime salts, such as good whole-meal bread, and they should take internally remedies which promote the growth of bone. Many women, as they say, “lose a tooth” for every child they bring into the world: that is to say, they find that a tooth decays after each birth. Proper diet and treatment would prevent this. Teeth should be properly cleansed if they are to be preserved. After each meal the particles of food that lodge in the interstices between the teeth should be removed with a quill or a wood tooth-pick. If they are allowed to remain they decompose, and the acids formed will destroy the enamel. All sweet, rich food tends to destroy the teeth.
The following advice on the prevention of caries, or decay, of the teeth I take the liberty of transferring from The Prescriber:-
“To prevent caries, live on simple food; too rich, too sweet, or too exclusively animal a diet, each tends to produce such a condition of the digestion and secretions of the mouth as favours the destruction of the teeth.
Vegetarians say that their teeth are easily kept clean. The most important point is to clean the teeth thoroughly and regularly. The formation of the tartar on the teeth is by no means preservative of them, as is vulgarly imagined; it tends simply to destroy the gum and rob the teeth of support. When it has formed it should be taken off by a dentist, if necessary, by the process of scaling. It should never be allowed to reform. The best dentifrices are the simplest; those, for instance, composed of powdered Castile soap, with a little powder of harder grain for polishing the enamel. The best brush is one neither very soft nor very hard. The first teeth of children should be most scrupulously cared for. If they are allowed to decay and come out the jaws fail to expand properly, and the seeds are laid of future trouble with the second set. Besides, the first set gives evidence of those depraved conditions of constitution which by proper treatment may be in large measure or wholly counteracted before the set appear. For all reasons, then, the temporary teeth demand the careful attention of both parents and physicians. It is quite as necessary that carious temporary teeth should be stopped whenever possible, as it is that the permanent should.”
The constitutional treatment should be carried out under a medical man, but a few hints may be given here.
Medicines.-(Two or three times a day.)
-In children if the teeth are peg-shaped; decay ensuing, turning black, bleeding gums; teeth falling out without cause. [This may be given to child-bearing women whose elder children have peg shaped teeth.]
Calcarea c. 6.
-For fat, scrofulous children.
-Teeth become discoloured, decay, and fall out; bleeding of the gums and formation of abscesses.
-Rapid decay of teeth, with much toothache.
Calcarea phos. 3.
-For pregnant and nursing women whose previous children have been rickety.
See also TOOTHACHE.