Celebrate George Washington's teeth (and his birthday)

Sneak a peek at the first president's pearly whites

Family: events, activities

February 12, 2004|By Lori Sears | Lori Sears,SUN STAFF

If he were still alive, George Washington would be celebrating his 272nd birthday on Feb. 22 Honest. And in celebration of our first president's birthday, the National Museum of Dentistry is presenting "Happy Birthday to George Washington And His Teeth" Sunday.

The museum's annual family program includes a theatrical show, exhibit tours, games, music and refreshments.

The program, started in 1997, is educational and fun, as "not only George Washington's teeth are discussed, but [also] his social and political life," according to the dental museum's Kristin Foster.

The interactive performance Coming of Age Along the Potomac will be presented by American Historical Theatre actor Dean Malissa, who portrays George Washington. The show tells the biographical tale of the father of our country -- how a country gentleman became a commanding officer.

Visitors can tour the George Washington Gallery and learn about Washington's life and dental health. The gallery holds an original set of Washington's dentures, as well as other artifacts and information relating to his dental history.

"The gallery includes information on Dr. John Greenwood, Washington's favorite dentist, and the story of Washington's 40-year battle with tooth loss, depicted in seven reproduced portraits," according to Foster. "Also a pair of blacksmith hand-forged forceps reported to have been made at the request of Washington's surgeon to extract one of his ailing teeth while he was encamped with the Continental Army at Middlebrook, N.J., in 1777, is on display."

Visitors young and old can take part in Washington birthday activities and games. Folks are invited to try on Colonial tri-cornered hats, visit a Colonial play station, participate in scavenger hunts, listen to period music and more.

The event would not be complete without "I Cannot Tell a Lie" cherry pie and cherry soda.

While at the museum, visitors can explore all of the exhibits, including 32 Terrific Teeth, with its trivia games, toothbrush displays and Tooth Jukebox of oral hygiene commercials.

Or visitors can get hands-on at the interactive exhibit The Marvelous Mouth, an animated computer program that teaches about brushing, flossing, whitening and bleaching and gives users facts about oral-piercings, tobacco use and overall oral health.

The exhibit Stamptasia! showcases a huge array of colorful and intricately designed dental-themed stamps, with different displays each year. Currently, the stamps on display all feature the word "odon," the Greek term for tooth.

At the exhibit The Future Is Now! African Americans in Dentistry, memoirs, portraits and inspirational stories of African-American dental professionals are on display.

Oral Orbit has the space toothbrush that orbited the moon in 1969 with astronaut Eugene Cernan, as well as a letter of authenticity from NASA on the toothbrush, photographs and more.

The interactive Terrific Tooth Tales includes a child-sized dental office, children's dental books, historic displays of a pediatric dental chair, rare toys and more.

Celebrate Washington's birthday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry, 31 S. Greene St. $3; free for ages 6 and under. The museum's regular hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Regular admission is $4.50; $2.50 seniors, students and children; free for ages 6 and under. Call 410-706-0600 or visit www.dentalmuseum.org.

For more family events, see Page 42.

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