You don’t see scary pliers like these nowadays. Here’s why.
CROWNS, BANDS and shells first became popular in the 1920s and ’30s, when dentistry started advancing beyond simple extractions and fillings into more sophisticated restorations. Copper bands and aluminum shells were used to take impressions. The bigger invention was the stainless steel and gold crowns for restoring teeth that were too bombed out to accept an amalgam filling. Before they came about, teeth like that were goners sooner or later.
When these crowns, shells and bands needed to fit tightly at the gingival margin, the operator picked out one size smaller and used this handy Taylor Band Stretcher to get that tight fit. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more than a little apprehensive if I saw my dentist pick this thing up. It looks a little too much like a meat tenderizer to me—not at all something I’d want to think about while in the dental chair.
Premade crowns are still popular, of course, especially in pediatric practices. However, today they’re considered temporary, and they come pre-finished, contoured and belled. There’s a lot less pulling and manhandling; they’re made of metal that’s easily stretched and burnished to fit prep margins. Back when this device was common, however, there were so many different kinds of crowns, bands and shells that a nifty, one-tool-does-it-all solution was in high demand.
I don’t know exactly when the Taylor Band Stretcher first appeared, but it was mentioned by name in a paper by Dr. Herbert A. Pullen, who traveled all the way from Buffalo to San Francisco to present it on February 18, 1932. Other things that happened in 1932: Ford debuted the V8 engine and Radio City Music Hall opened in New York. Those are still around, but they’ve come a long way—just like the crowns and pliers of today.