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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
Oh, how rife in show, Thy lips those tempting cherries kissing grow. - Mid-Summer Night's Dream.
A perfect mouth is, according to sculptors and painters, of medium size, the upper lip bowshaped, the under nearly straight. The lips themselves, in nature of a bright crimson, should be neither too thick, which gives them a sensual expression, nor too thin, as in the latter case the whole countenance as sumes an appearance of hardness and penuriousness. The influence of the mouth and teeth on the personal beauty of a woman is known and freely admitted by all, and if a girl have a beautiful set of even, white, compact teeth, she has the foundation of enough beauty for the average woman. With the most irregular features, I have seen women who were irresistible because they were possessed of an utterly enchanting mouth and teeth. Indeed, were I to choose any one feature of the face as the keystone for beauty building, I should say unhesitatingly, give me a beautiful mouth and perfect teeth, and I will do the rest. I can transform ugly skins into lilies and roses, make coarse hair glossy and luxuriant, give the eyes a gentle and womanly expression so that they will be sweetly attractive even though per se they are not beautiful, but I am always rather discouraged by a noticeably malformed mouth, and distinctly so when the lips of a woman part to reveal decayed, misshapen teeth, pale, unwholesome gums, and a diseased and fetid breath. However we live fortunately in the age of wonderful dentistry, and even the unfortunate woman with crooked, misshapen teeth need not despair. Crooked teeth may be straightened, decayed teeth cleaned and filled, discolored ones bleached, and even hopelessly diseased ones may be treated and the disorder arrested, and there are artificial teeth made today which really do defy detection. It is positively essential to every woman's beauty to keep her mouth healthy or her breath will be offensive.
Nothing so soon is fatal to the beauty of the mouth as disease in any form. The fever which gives the eye its unnatural and often fascinating brilliancy will also paint the cheeks with a flush of exquisite rose,-its effect on the lips is to dry them and make them parched and brown and blistered looking, and the breath is tainted instantly by disease. You will hear a physician or a nurse exclaim: "She had a sore throat. I knew at once by her breath it was diphtheritic"-or-"He had a typhoid breath"-or-"She certainly had consumption. I recog nized the phthisis breath." Whenever the breath is contaminated, you should look at once for the cause. In children frequently it is due to some slight derangement of the stomach, or it may be and usually is, the forerunner of a childish malady. But where it is chronic in young or old, there is need of a skillful doctor at once. The catarrhal breath is peculiarly offensive, yet I think it can be almost always greatly palliated if not entirely disinfected. For immediate use the following is an antiseptic wash, and will for a certain time correct an offensive breath.
ANTISEPTIC TOOTH WASH FOR OFFENSIVE BREATH (Beaumez)
Phenic acid....1 gramme.
Rinse the mouth with the above, which should bę diluted for use in the proportion of one-half tooth wash to same quantity of clear water. Use after each meal and at any time required.
For a positive cure of catarrhal breath I know of nothing so efficacious as Marchand's hydrozone and glycozone treatment, When the breath is continuously offensive, the following pastilles are recommended, as they may be carried in the pocket and are very efficacious:
Pulverized coffee....45 grammes.
Mucilage made from Senegal gum-enough to form paste of proper consistency.
Mix the coffee, charcoal, and sugar thoroughly with mortar and pestle, add the vanilla, then the mucilage, which is made by dissolving the gum in water. Roll the paste out thin and cut in little squares. Keep in tin or pasteboard boxes.
A11 children of our day have a right, which advanced dentistry in various branches gives them, to a set of regular, sound, white teeth. I will qualify this somewhat by excepting the little unfortunates who come into this world with the taint of scrofula (or consumption, which is also scrofulous), in their veins. Even with these terrible legacies much may be done to strengthen and assist the bone in the formation of the teeth and the straightening of crooked, overlapped ones. Many a girl has had all her chances of ever becoming a pretty woman quite ruined by a mouthful of crooked, overlapping uneven teeth.
Frequently a girl's looks are destroyed by a narrow and protruding upper jaw which a little care will transform into a symmetrical feature. In these cases, it is well always to consult a good scientific surgeon dentist. Do not, however, permit a sound tooth, no matter how it overlaps, to be extracted on the advice of any one dentist; teeth are far too precious to run any risks about. In every case, the teeth should be straightened as they come in, for while they are coming in the jaw will yield and make place for them. After they are firmly set, even though one resorts to extracting one or two where they are crowded, to make room for the others, the result is a space and the remaining teeth will only stay straight while the torturing plate has them in a vice. I have seen children suffer such agonies from those cruel plates that I would never consent to the use of one again. I remember too vividly, one dear child's torture and my own horror, when, upon examining the plate which was to straighten her teeth, and had been by the dentist firmly attached by all sorts of brutal contrivances so she could not herself take it out, I found the proud flesh protruding from it in bits, some of them half an inch in length, all around between the plate and her teeth. This child suffered martyrdom through the brutality of a dentist, and after all, the operation was a failure, resulting in nervous prostration of the victim, the loss of two beautiful sound teeth, and no result in straightening those which were to be connected by the vacancies made in extracting. The bill for this service was five hundred and twenty-five dollars. Let one such experience be a lesson to those who read of it.
It is now conceded that a great deal depends on the care of the baby teeth. The period of dentition is of course a very trying one, but it can be greatly ameliorated by care and the greatest possible cleanliness. A teething baby should have at least two full warm water baths each day and the little mouth and gums should be washed frequently with a weak solution of borax and cooling water. The very moment the first little tooth appears, you should buy the baby a tiny soft camel's-hair toothbrush, and morning and night each little tooth should be cleansed. Use the borax solution for this, and if agreeable to the baby, add just a drop of essence of peppermint. Never extract the first teeth to make way for the second Let them drop out as they will, or at y the most assist them only to make their exit when they are hanging by a mere thread. Children, and in fact grown people, rarely brush their teeth properly. Teach the little people to brush up and down, never across the tooth - in the latter the enamel is rubbed across the grain and frequently is worn off by too much brushing the wrong way. The best dentifrice for children is camphorated chalk, which is readily made at home. It is cleansing, antiseptic, and wholesome.
Children often acquire bad habits of making mouthsof grimacing-and sometimes suck or bite the lips until they so distort them as to produce a permanent deformity and ruin the expression of the face. They should be deterred from habits which are fatal to good looks. Mouthy children are unpleasant, but they are curable. It is astonishing, however, to note certain persons, not children by any means, who appear to be utterly unconscious of the appearance of their countenances when they are chatting or laughing. They engage in the most extraordinary muscular contortions and distortions sometimes revealing whole sets of not too attractive teeth and even half an inch of gum above them and presenting an almost savage appearance. I think it would be wise to insist where a young girl is getting into such a way, that she should be made to watch her uncanny appearance by conversing before a mirror. The vanity happily inherent in our sex and without which we should, in my opinion, be but a sad lot of "females" as Mr. Pickwick would say, may be depended upon to effect a cure.
Massage is the only treatment for the drooping corners of the mouth. Make the movement upward and outward; downward facial movements work ruin.
It is something to live in the day of crown fillings. Think of it, those who have gone through the martyrdom of tooth extracting and the miseries of the old-fashioned artificials. Yet, it is not so very long ago since teeth were filled or stopped in good old London with " wooden plugs." Think of the agony of that operation. I saw a woman the other day who is conservative to the last degree. She is rejoicing in most beautifully scientific dentistry including bridge-work, crowns, and a11 the latest novelties and luxuries of the dental world. I could scarcely believe my eyes. She looked as though she had found the fountain of youth and taken a plunge in its restoring waters. It is not astonishing that in old times the removal of a front tooth was the punishment for many crimes. To be minus a front tooth was a lasting brand of degradation and convicted prisoners would beg for the lash or for any other form of punishment. Sometimes it happens that despite the greatest care the gums soften and recede; there is usually an inherited cause. Taken in time the following wash is very efficacious in hardening the gums:
WASH FOR RECEDING GUMS-(Delestre)
Macerate for eight days ; filter; use diluted with mater to rinse the mouth and gums as often as required.
The famous Eau Botot, a dentifrice of great renown, is made as follows:
Green anise....64 grammes.
Mix the cream of tartar, benzoin, and cochineal together, then add the other ingredients. Macerate for eight days. Filter and bottle for use.