The human mouth has a history almost as dinosaurs. Major advances happened between 1700 and present day, (for more read our Dental History post series here). This history is preserved at museums and exhibits all over our country, and a few are bucket list worthy. If you’re a history buff, interested in dentistry, or have a child considering the field, now might be the time to plan a trip! We’ve rounded up some great information on some top dentistry destinations to help you do just that!
Dr. Samuel D Harris National Museum of Dentistry
Located on the University of Maryland’s campus, the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry offers 7,000 square feet of interactive and educational exhibits. Most of the artifact collection comes from very site of the world’s first college of dentistry founded in 1840. You’ll see one of George Washington’s bottom dentures and Victoria Queen of England’s teeth cleaning tools among the 40,000 object collection. Antique artwork and paraphernalia and ancient to present toothbrushes. If you could only visit one museum related to dentistry, this is the one to choose!
Museum tours are by appointment only, so be sure to check out their website for details. Groups and school field trips are also an option. They do offer packages for bringing the exhibit to your school or town. A page of other resources for teaching oral hygiene and all the other information can be found on their website.
Harris Dental Museum, Ohio
Preserved and maintained by the Ohio Dental Association, the Harris Dental Museum is in a small brick building which housed the first dental school in the United States in Bainbridge, Ohio in the early 1800s. Dr. John Harris was considered the up-starter of dental schooling, as a number of his students went on to start other schools and further teach the importance of dentistry all over the United States. It looks much like it did when he lived there, with cases and exhibits of dental apparatuses. It’s free to check out, but is limited in both time of year and hours that it’s open. (April through November.) For hours and other local information to plan a trip, check out the Historical Society’s website. Bainbridge has a Leaf Festival in October that would make a fun addition for your trip to check out this important, if small, piece of dental history.
Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, Michigan
Though smaller than the University of Maryland’s collection, the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry at the University of Michigan still boasts an impressive collection of over 15,000 items. It’s organized untraditionally, with displays spread within two buildings and among practicing and studying students of M.U.’s School of Dentistry and Kellogg Institute Building. It’s free and open to the public Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm. For parking and other considerations, visit the dedicated page on their website.
Macaulay Museum of Dental History, South Carolina
Nestled within the Waring historical library in South Carolina is one of the most comprehensive collections of documents and items in dental history. They also have a chronological row of dentist chairs, including one for children, and a traveling dentist’s bag available for observation. The Macaulay Museum of Dental History is an off shoot of the University of Maryland’s National Museum of dentistry. You should book a tour with the Waring Historical Library for Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. For more info, click here.
Pioneer West Museum, Shamrock TX
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home with some old dental artifacts, consider the Pioneer West Museum in Shamrock. It’s a four hour drive from Fort Worth and offers 25 rooms filled with Texas history, from the natives that lived on the land to the old west and the building of Route 44. One room offers an old west dentist office, with weird contraptions that will make you appreciate our Fort Worth’s office that much more. For more info and some pictures, check out their website.
Mount Vernon Estate, Virginia
When we think of teeth related legends or historical stories, George Washington usually come to mind. His lifelong struggle with health, specifically of his dental battles, will make you thankful for modern advances in these fields. (We wrote about this in our post “Did George Washington Really Have Wooden Teeth?”) This was a major part of his life, and a great way to explore it is to visit his home, Mount Vernon in Virginia. In addition to a pair of his later dentures and learning about his dental problems, you will get to explore his home and get to know an important man in US history. For upcoming events and trip planning details, go to the Mount Vernon website.
Have you been to any of these amazing places in American history? Is so, please tell us about it the next time you stop in for an appointment. Have a great week!