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Two pelican tooth extractors, circa 1750

Two pelican tooth extractors, circa 1750

C017/8364

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Two pelican tooth extractors, one is in boxwood (left) and the other in ebony (right). Pelican extractors were an early type of dental forceps, so named due to their claw which was thought to resemble a pelican's beak. Tooth extraction is the earliest known dental procedure, it was used as a last-resort cure for toothache. Pelican extractors originated in the fourteenth century and by the 1500s they had become the most popular tool for tooth-drawing amongst barber surgeons and practitioners. No two alike, each pelican extractor would have been individually designed to order. These are continental and date from around 1750.

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