Bulletin of Dental Education

National Museum of Dentistry Unveils 'Your Spitting Image'

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The National Museum of Dentistry has unveiled a new interactive program on its website, "Your Spitting Image." This new component of the museum's web presence features an in-depth exploration of forensics, saliva, and bioengineering as it relates to science, dentistry, and oral health.

The educational website is developed in part to be a companion resource with the museum's travelling version of the exhibit. Key scientific topics such as DNA, genetics, and stem cells are covered and can be used by parents and educators for additional studies at home or in the classroom.

The website has three main sections that explore the science of dentistry and oral health. In Forensics: Solving Mysteries, site visitors learn how forensic dentists assist law enforcement in identifying missing persons using x-rays, bite marks, and DNA testing. Visitors can then discover how saliva protects our teeth and how the mouth is connected to the health of the rest of the body in Saliva: A Remarkable Fluid. And in Bioengineering: Making a New You, visitors explore how stem cells and genes are being used to grow replacement teeth and cure disease.

Several interactive activities enhance the visitor's experience, including:

  •  An exploration into how a few drops of saliva can be used to determine genetic make-up, diagnose infections, and identify illegal drug use 
  •  A step-by-step illustration of how forensic dentists can extract DNA from a tooth to identify an unknown victim 
  •  An animated cartoon that shows how brushing, flossing, and rinsing leads to a healthy mouth 
  •  A visual timeline of the various ways mankind has sought to replace missing teeth for thousands of years, from the ancient Egyptians to the future of tooth replacement 

Educator guides are included and provide illustrated and age-appropriate lessons for middle and high school students. All materials are designed to meet the National Science Education Standards developed by the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment and the National Research Council.

The "Your Spitting Image" website has been made possible by the Patterson Dental Foundation.

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