A Dental Health Theatre?
What in the world is a Dental Health Theatre? Is this a place where we might go to see a bicuspid acting as Shakespeare’s Romeo while an incisor, playing the part of Juliet, daintily sips a poisonous potion? Or, shall we expect a row of baby teeth doing a can-can dance dressed in swirling feathered costumes? Perhaps it’s a giant wisdom tooth belting out a baritone aria as spectators weep to the forlorn sound of instrumentals in the background. Or worse! A dental operating theatre where passersby can watch as would-be student dentists learn their skills on unsuspecting patients?
Actually, it’s an educational attraction that serves to teach children and youth of the need for good dental hygiene in a non-threatening and entertaining way. The Dental Health Theatre is the only one of its kind in the world.
The whole thing began when a Chicago dentist had a set of sixteen three-foot-tall illuminated teeth made in the 1970s. However, he soon found himself running out of room in his office and sold them to a St. Louis dentist, who brought them to Missouri. With the help of other dentists in the area, as well as the Dental Auxiliary, a group of dentists’ wives, the Dental Health Theatre was born.
Combining the teeth with a marionette puppet show that the Dental Auxiliary had been presenting to local schools, they soon added two films, a giant toothbrush, and an oversized dental floss to utilize for demonstrations.
The Dental Health Theatre features the a set of 16 three-foot-tall illuminated fiberglass teeth, that serves as the boundary for a stage where puppet shows are given for groups of 15 or more. For smaller groups, you can still see one of two films — “Dudley The Dinosaur Goes to the Dentist” for young children and “The Haunted Mouth” for older children.
The Theatre is now housed in the HealthWorks! Kids Museum in St. Louis