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Toothache and Trauma: A History of the Toothkey

    Key with three Interchangeable Claws

    The typical key had one claw that fit a specific tooth size and was attached for a left or a right extraction. To suit each patient’s needs, the traveling practitioner would have carried a variety of keys or an array of interchangeable claws. Circa 1850, this inconvenience was addressed by design of a key with two or three claws attached. Explanations of how the instrument functioned with multiple claws attached simultaneously are unclear. The potential for mishaps would have doubled or tripled! More likely this key functioned as a “kit” with multiple claws attached only during transit. Once the patient was examined, one claw was selected and the others removed before the procedure took place.

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