Zauner-type dental pelican


Dental pelican, adjustable Zauner type, steel with ivory handle, French or German, 1780-1830

Dental pelicans are so-called because they supposedly resemble the shape of a pelican’s beak. They are believed to date back to the 1300s and are among the very earliest instruments designed to remove teeth.

The process was undoubtedly painful for the patient and possibly caused damage to the gums and surrounding teeth. Tooth pulling was the only cure for diseased teeth or toothache and was carried out by barber-surgeons and travelling practitioners.