Object Record

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Caption Mid-1880s Dental Key
Object Name Extractor, Tooth
Object ID 1993.45.14
Description Dental key or tooth extractor used by Dr. Henry L. Gay of Bremen, Georgia. The steel key
has a straight shaft that has decorative rings around the center. The steel handle is also straight with small decorative finials. At the end of the center shaft is a hook that swivels on a steel pin in the end of the shaft.

The key is also called a tooth key and is an instrument used to pull teeth. The dental key, modeled after a door key, was used by inserting it horizontally into the mouth and hooking the claw over a tooth and then rotating the key to loosen and hopefully pull the tooth.

This is a dental key modeled on the original design that dates back to the 1700s which exterted pressure on the adjoining tooth. In 1765, the key was improved by introducing a single bend which reduced the pressure on the tooth beside the diseased one when it was being pulled. The forcep type of extractor, developed in the late 1800s, made the tooth key obsolete.
Year Range from 1850
Year Range to 1875
Search Terms Dental T&E
Subjects Dental equipment & supplies
Condition Good