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The Dental Key

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The Dental Key


"Hi! My name is Kirsty Earley from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and today, I want to talk to you about the dental key. Now, most of you might not have heard of a dental key before and that is a good thing!

Dental keys were dental instruments used in the 18th and 19th centuries and were even used up to the early 20th century. These instruments were used to extract teeth and were called keys because of the mechanism involved. They were also called keys because of what they looked like- they looked like a door key. So, the claw of the key would be placed over the tooth that was to be extracted, the instrument would then be turned like a key in a door and the tooth would be extracted.  This technique wasn't always effective because sometimes instead of extracting the entire tooth, it would just break off the crown leaving the rest of the tooth in place.  This was often done under conditions where there was no anaesthesia, so the patient would feel everything.

Thankfully by the mid-1800s anaesthesia was discovered and it was discovered through a dental operation! By the late 1800s, the dental key was becoming less common as an instrument as it was replaced by the more effective, dental forceps."