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Dental pelican for tooth pulling, Europe, 1701-1800

Dental pelicans are so-called because they supposedly resemble the shape of a pelican’s beak. They are believed to date back to the 1300s and are among the very earliest instruments designed to remove teeth. There are many variations in the design of these simple instruments and this is an example of a double-ended pelican. The tooth was removed sideways after 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 was intended to remove the tooth. The process 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 or toothache and was carried out by barber-surgeons and travelling practitioners.

Object number:

A616578

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    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.

    Glossary: dental pelican

    Used for extracting teeth sideways. Invented by Guy de Chauliac in the 1300s. It was used for tooth extraction before the use of dental keys.