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Ivory toothpick case, England, 1801-1850

Toothpicks are used to remove food from the teeth and this ivory case has a mirror in the lid so the user could see exactly where to place the pick. Now missing, the toothpicks themselves would have been made from bone or ivory. Such toothpick cases became a fashion accessory from the 1700s onwards and the expensive nature of the materials reflect the wealth of the owner. Other elaborate cases would have been made from tortoiseshell, silver and gold.

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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: toothpick case

    A case used to hold toothpicks

    Glossary: dentistry

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