Patient safety and comfort are our most important values at DOCS Education. Today, we have the resources and technological sophistication to make these values a reality. However, for many centuries, dental tools were downright frightening—and patients were left with little choice: face bone-chilling, painful treatment—or receive no treatment at all.

In a nod to All Hallows Eve, Incisor takes a look into some of the creepiest and most historically relevant dental instruments dating back thousands of years.

#7 Wilcox-Jewett Obtunder (1905)

Though it seems plucked straight from a fantasy novel, this device’s application was purely practical: pain reduction.

The Wilcox-Jewett Obtunder was released in 1905 and was used to inject a cocaine solution into the gums for anesthetic purposes.

We’re not sure which is more frightening: the instrument itself or the types of solutions dentists once used for pain reduction.

Clockwork Drill

#6 The Clockwork Drill (1860s)

Invented by British dentist George Fellows Harrington in 1864, this device was elaborate, beautiful—and quite painful.

The drill operated by being wound up in advance and would then continue running for approximately two minutes. Known for being cumbersome and requiring the use of both hands, it was quickly replaced by the foot engine in 1872.

Civil War Forceps

#5 Civil War-Era Forceps

Anesthetic was still not in use by the time these forceps appeared in the 1860s. We have no doubt they were just as terrifying as they appear—and delivered a one-two punch: the drill in the center was intended to telescope and work on the tooth root while the forceps simultaneously extracted.

 

17th Century Forceps

#4 17th Century Forceps

The dental forceps to the right were also used around the same time the Dental Pelican (shown below) was being used. Though less sophisticated than the Civil War era forceps above, we’re sure the two were equally painful.

 

Dental Pelican

#3 The Dental Pelican

The Dental Pelican dates back to the 1600s. Named for its similarity to a pelican beak, this instrument was used for tooth extraction. The tooth was intended to fit neatly and tightly between the rotating claw.

 

Bow Drill

#2 Bow Drill (7000 BCE)

Originating in India and Pakistan, bow drills similar to the one pictured to the right were originally created to spin, creating friction, and ultimately fire. This same application was later used to drill into teeth.

 

Bow Drill

#1 Dental Drill (Stone Age)

This drill (a recreation) dates back to the Stone Age and is one of the oldest dental instruments to ever exist.

The instrument was used to treat infected teeth using a flint tip. Of course, anesthesia would not be used until thousands of years later—and this instrument was, in fact, as painful and terrifying as it looks.

 

We have to say—though dental instruments have come a long way, even in just the last century—our thoughts will be haunted, indefinitely, by these menacing-looking devices.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this, or any case study post in Incisor should never be considered a proper replacement for necessary training and/or education regarding adult oral conscious sedation. Regulations regarding sedation vary by state. This is an educational and informational piece. DOCS Education accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages resulting from any direct or indirect recipient's use of or failure to use any of the information contained herein. DOCS Education would be happy to answer any questions or concerns mailed to us at 106 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.

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The information contained in this, or any case study post in Incisor, should never be considered a proper replacement for necessary training and/or education regarding adult oral conscious sedation. Regulations regarding sedation vary by state. This is an educational and informational piece. DOCS Education accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages resulting from any direct or indirect recipient's use of or failure to use any of the information contained herein. DOCS Education would be happy to answer any questions or concerns mailed to us at 3250 Airport Way S, Suite 701 | Seattle, WA 98134. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.
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