John Arbuthnot (1667-1735),1 physician to Queen Anne, claimed that "above a tenth part of Infants die in Teething by Symptoms proceeding from the irritation of the tender parts of the Jaws." He, along with many others, including Ambroise Paré (1510-1590),2 recommended lancing the gums in difficult cases.

The same recommendation was found in many American medical journals well into the nineteenth century, as is evident in this quotation published in 1857.3

The principal thing in the treatment of these cases, is to lance the gums freely. A superficial incision will be of no avail; the gums must be cut down until the lancet impinges on the approaching tooth. The only caution required, is that the incision be inclined outwards, in order to avoid the tissues which connect the permanent and temporary teeth. . . . The operation requires considerable skill and caution to ensure its safe and effectual performance. The terrors of the mother and the restlessness of the infant, frequently render it by no means an easy operation; and the careless operator is apt to wound either the cheeks or tongue, to make the incisions too superficially to be of the slightest use.

The prejudices of former writers against this invaluable operation scarcely require comment; but as we still find a few, and we are happy to say a very few individuals, who retain a bigoted faith in the absurd dogmata of their forefathers, we will briefly refer to the objections which have been urged against the utility of lancing the gums.

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