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Silver tongue scraper, London, England, 1827

Silver tongue scraper, London, England, 1827

Credits: Science Museum

Tongue scrapers were used to remove the ‘furry’ deposits that can build up on the tongue after eating, drinking and smoking. This particular type was known as a ‘wishbone’ because of its shape. They symbolise a growing interest in oral healthcare and would be used either during a visit to the dentist or in the home. Scrapers could be made from a range of materials including ivory, tortoiseshell, gold and silver. Silver scrapers generally came into use after 1800.

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Glossary: hygiene

The science of health and how to maintain it. A condition or practice which promotes good health. The definition varies widely and differs across cultures.

Glossary: tongue scraper

An instrument to remove 'fur' off the tongue.