Going to the dentist in unquestionably one of the worst experiences of human existence. Even though I always do what I’m supposed to, brushing and flossing twice a day, every single time I go in there the dentists hack at my teeth like I’ve been eating exclusively aluminum foil for the past 6 months. Not only that, but going to the dentist means getting needles and drills shoved in your mouth.
However, it could be worse. Oh, it could be so much worse. What you see below aren’t medieval torture devices, but were actually used by dentists of old to make mouths ‘better’. Imagine having to see these babies bi-annually.
Dental Screw Forceps (1848)
The two end blades were jammed into the mouth to allow for the screw to reach the root more effectively.
Clockwork Drill (1875)
This drill was the first drill to be able to drill continuously after wound up like a toy in a Happy Meal.
Dental Forceps (1600s)
Forceps may be used in most medical fields today, but check out how brutal the forceps in the 17th century looked. It looks more capable of ripping out a whole jaw than individual teeth.
Dental Pelican (1600s)
Named for their beak-like shape, these babies were another extraction tool used as far back as the 1400s. The the tooth would sit between that pointy claw and the other claw that is pointy in a different way and then YANK!
Bow Drill (7000 BC)
This incredibly ancient dental tool was designed looks like it should start a fire… but it was actually just an old tool used to drill into a tooth.
And here is the Bow Drill in action.
Oral Speculum (1600s)
This guy looks like a vice grip, but it was actually designed to keep a particularly chatty patient’s mouth open. As you turn the grip, the wider the mouth gets.
Finger-Rotated Dental Drill (1870s)
This manual drill attached to the dentist’s finger. As you can imagine, it was a slow, painful way to drill into a tooth.
Wilcox-Jewett Obtunder (1905)
This horrifying-looking syringe was used to inject cocaine into the gums, as that typically the only anesthetic available.
Dental Key (1810s)
Before forceps made these obsolete, these were the primary method for extracting teeth up until the 20th century. Not exactly perfect, these devices would often just crack the tooth in half instead of pull it out.
Dental Mouth Gag (1500s)
Similar to the speculum, this was specifically designed to keep open the mouths of people afflicted by lock jaw.
Bone Chisels (1780s)
You thought the dental keys were bad? These guys were literally just stabbed into the gum and acted as tiny shovels to get the tooth out
Leave it to the French to come up with the most bizarre way to pull a tooth. Imagine feeling that spike slowly crank into your gums below the teeth before he snatches it right out of your mouth.
Tongue Ecraseur (1850s)
This friendly looking thing was designed to be able to remove parts of the tongue that have been infected. The more the wheel is cranked, the less blood is circulated to that part of the tongue, Then it is merely hacked off with a knife.
Goat’s Foot Elevator (1700s)
This little doohickey was used to pry a loose tooth up if it was being a little stubborn about letting go of the gums.
Dental Phantom (1930s)
This was the standard model dentists used to practice their techniques on at one time and not a prosthetic for the failed Halo movie.
Who knew that dentistry used to be nothing but horror and gore? I used to be afraid of the dentist… and now I’m terrified. Thank goodness we have smaller needles, faster drills and better numbing agents.