So far as I know, no present day pediatric textbook recommends gum-lancing to relieve the symptoms caused by the cutting of the infant's teeth. But within the memory of many older practitioners, the value of this procedure was still supported by a number of the leading pediatricians of their day.
One of the most avid proponents of gumlancing was Dr. John Darwall of Birmingham, England, who wrote:
With respect to the gums, the moment they become red and inflamed they should be lanced, nor can any harm result from this practice, if the lancet be clean . . .
An objection has been made, and even by medical men, that should the gums heal over the teeth after they have been lanced, they become harder than they were at first, and consequently that the teeth will have more difficulty in protruding. Unprofessional persons might be excused for making such a remark and drawing such an inference, but in medical men it is utterly disgraceful.
Convulsions, inflammation of the eyes and many other diseases frequently accompany teething; it will be in vain to administer medicines until the gums have been lanced.1
Almost a century later the highly respected John Lovett Morse of Boston advocated gumlancing to relieve the infant's fever, which he considered to be a frequent accompaniment of teething. He cited the following personal experience:
A boy, 17 months old, began to be fussy and a little feverish the night of April 14. The next evening the temperature was 103°F., the next day 100°F. in the evening.