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Dental descaling set, England, 1801-1850

These descaling instruments were used to remove tartar and plaque from the surface of the tooth. The set contains six descalers, each with a different shaped head, which screw into the ivory handle. These instruments are very sharp but a large amount of force was probably needed to remove deposits. This could be painful, especially if a tooth was loosened or the gums were scratched in the process. Such instruments came into more general use in the 1700s and were used by both dentists and ordinary individuals. But at a time when dental hygiene was virtually non-existent for much of the population, instruments like these were likely to be owned and used by the wealthier members of society.

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Glossary: dental descaler set

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Glossary: dentistry

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