The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is partnering with Baltimore City Public Schools for a pilot program bringing city schoolchildren to visit the museum. A goal is to familiarize children with the field of dentistry in hopes that they will consider careers as dentists or dental hygienists.
“Traditionally, children visit the museum to have fun and get excited about caring for their teeth,” says Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, executive director of the Museum of Dentistry and professor and chief of dental public health at the School of Dentistry. “This program helps us to take the next step, to inspire underserved children to believe that a career in dentistry is a possibility for them. We want to reach these kids early in order to motivate them to take seriously their STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] classes and aspire to health careers. As an added plus, we’ll be promoting good oral health.”
The series of visits gives Baltimore City Public Schools the chance to show its students an example of the kind of career that is possible for any student, with hard work and dedication in school.
The Museum of Dentistry, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, features 40,000 objects in its collection, including George Washington’s ivory (not wooden) dentures, Queen Victoria’s personal dental instruments, and many other artifacts from the history of dentistry. It also features interactive, entertaining exhibits meant to engage and educate children on the importance of oral health.
The School of Dentistry, the oldest dental school in the world, celebrates the 175th anniversary of its founding this year. Many of the National Museum of Dentistry’s artifacts come from the collection of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the School of Dentistry’s predecessor, founded in 1840.