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Museums for Dental Health: 1800Dentist.com

Dentistry is a complicated science requiring the skills of a trained dental care professional backed by an individual practicing good oral hygiene. Despite the facts and statistics readily available, for many, seeing is believing when it comes to learning why dental care is so important for maintaining dental health and general well-being. Fortunately, and country is filled with dental and medical museums that can help individuals open their eyes and see the light right in front of them.

Those interested in separating facts from fiction regarding dental care can find learning opportunities nearly everywhere. In New York City, individuals can sneak a peek of a set of George Washington's original false teeth at The New York Academy of Medicine on the upper West Side. Online individuals can peruse the International Toothpaste Museum (http://internationaltoothpastemuseum.blogspot.com/) to explore flavors and brands of toothpastes from around the world or review the plethora of dental health articles on 1-800-DENTIST. However, for those looking for a dental industry learning experience in person, here are some of the best American museums dedicated to the craft.

National Museum of Dentistry, Baltimore, MD

The Smithsonian Museum is a national treasure that tends to be a 'must have' visit for visitors to Washington D.C. The entire museum network includes a massive collection including multiple museums, a zoo, nine research centers and 136 million items. The organization proudly operates the National Museum of Dentistry, a dental museum filled with large collection of dental artifacts replete with Queen Victoria’s personal oral hygiene instruments, toothbrushes from the 1800s and the world’s most comprehensive collection of dental advertising poster art.

Congress has decreed that the National Museum of Dentistry is the official museum of the dentist industry and as a result the institution is home to a "40,000-object collection of dental instruments, furniture, and artwork," making the collection "...one of the largest and most significant in the world,"  (http://www.dentalmuseum.org/explore/collection/). Because of that acknowledgement, the museum has constructed a number of exhibits that takes dental education very seriously including "The Operatory of the Future," a high-tech dental office of the future, a two floor exhibit entitled "32 Terrific Teeth" and much more. 

Harris Dental Museum, Bainbridge, OH

Some may erroneously think that dentistry was born from the elite set living in east coast cities, however Dr. John D. Harris is attributed to bringing the science and the first dentistry school ever to Ohio. It is because of him that the Dr. John D. Harris Dental Museum in Bainbridge, OH even exists in the first place. The museum itself is located in a residential building constructed in 1815 and has a history of being the nation's first dental school.

It was in this simple brick house structure was where Harris launched the first school of dentistry by teaching students the science in the 1800s. Harris was such a great teacher he influenced his brother Chapin to dedicate himself to dentistry and to become the founder of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. The school building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and features a history of dentistry as well as dental equipment from yesteryear.

Historical Dental Museum at the Temple University School of Dentistry, Philadelphia, PA

The City of Brotherly Love is known as being the Birthplace of America. The city is also a hub a dental knowledge thanks to the small but delightful Historical Dental Museum at the Temple University School of Dentistry in town. The educational facility proudly displays items such as a bucket of teeth, antique dentistry teaching aids and other props originally developed by Edgar R. R. Parker, a showman in the field.

Parker originally studied the craft of dentistry in Philly, but relocated back to his native Canada after graduation in around 1892. Back on his home turf, dentistry was still unheard of so Parker channeled P.T. Barnum and created a carnival atmosphere in order to build a client base and officially changed his name to Painless Parker. He marketed a traveling side-show approach to dentistry headed up by a former P.T. Barnum manager and replete with show girls and a necklace of 357 teeth reportedly extracted by Parker in one day. The museum holds many of the props he used for this extreme form of dental care advertising.

It is important to note that while a majority of the dental exhibits should not be touched by visitors, managing dental health can only requires a hands-on approach. Visiting the locations can help create a dialogue regarding proper dental care among caregivers and chargers and 1-800-DENTIST can help people find dentists qualified to implement the medicine close to home.

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