Antique dental tools range from tooth extracting dental pelicans and dental keys to finger-rotated dental drills and oral specula. The 17th century ushered in more dental sophistication with the advent of a "Douglas Lever," a unique tool that blends elevators with forceps.
Similar in appearance to a pelican's beak, dental pelicans were commonly used from the 14th century through the latter part of the 18th century. They often had rotating claws attached to shafts in adjustable slots. A tooth would be clamped between the head of the shaft and the claw to be extracted.
In the early 1800s, dental keys were used to pull teeth. Resembling door keys, a claw at the end of the key was used to clamp down on a tooth while a dentist twisted the instrument in hopes of loosening a diseased tooth. A frequent side result was tissue damage, broken teeth and fractured jaws. As the 20th century evolved, forceps made dental keys irrelevant.
Dental tools used to be ornate and set in jewels or ivory in the 1800s. Dental forceps occasionally featured rubies in the pivots and detailed engraving along the devices. During the Civil War are, dental anesthetic was not common, so dentists provided cocaine to their patients to subside the pain.