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Dental instruments used for tooth pulling, France, 1700-1800

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These dental pelicans are so-called because they resemble a pelican’s beak. The instruments were used for tooth pulling – the tooth was removed sideways! The claw was placed over the top of the tooth and the fulcrum, the semi-circular piece of metal at the end, was placed against the gum. The pressure from the lever would remove the tooth. This was undoubtedly painful for the patient and possibly caused damage to the gums and surrounding teeth. Tooth pulling was the only cure for diseased teeth and toothache which was carried out by barber-surgeons and travelling practitioners.

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    Glossary: dental instrument

    Hand-held tools or implements especially used by dental professionals for the performance of clinical tasks

    Glossary: tooth pulling

    The removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to prevent restoration. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are also routinely performed.

    Glossary: dentistry

    The study, treatment and management of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, gums, teeth and their supporting tissues.