George's Dentures Shine At Dentistry Museum The question of what George Washington's false teeth were made of may be the oldest bit of trivia in the United States. But at the National Museum of Dentistry, it's anything but a trivial matter -- the dentures are the star exhibit.
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George's Dentures Shine At Dentistry Museum

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George's Dentures Shine At Dentistry Museum

George's Dentures Shine At Dentistry Museum

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

This summer, we're taking a look at some strangely specific museums across the country. Its time for another stop along our Holiday Road.

(Soundbite of song, Holiday Road)

Mr. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM (Singer): (Singing) Holiday road. Holiday road.

WERTHEIMER: Today we visit downtown Baltimore.

Ms. AMY PELSINSKY (National Museum of Dentistry): My name is Amy Pelsinsky, with the National Museum of Dentistry. We're an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

WERTHEIMER: Who knew? And what can you find at a museum of dentistry? Possibly antiquated dental torture devices?

Ms. PELSINSKY: Well, we have Queen Victoria's personal dental instruments.

WERTHEIMER: Check. A nod to pop culture icons.

Ms. PELSINSKY: Cartoon character toothbrushes like Fred Flintstone and Spiderman.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Okay, and how about dental karaoke?

Ms. PELSINSKY: You can sing along to vintage toothpaste commercials.

WERTHEIMER: Wow. Now for a hard one. How about a famous piece of American presidential lore?

Ms. PELSINSKY: Well, we have George Washington's dentures here at the National Museum of Dentistry.

MONTAGNE: Dentures that many grew up thinking were made of wood. Amy Pelsinsky says George Washingtons dentures show that our schoolbooks need a little checkup of their own.

Ms. PELSINSKY: Everything you learned in history is wrong. They're actually made of ivory. And specifically, the dentures that we have in our collection were made out of hippopotamus ivory.

WERTHEIMER: You can learn more about the National Museum of Dentistry on our website, npr.org. We also have photos of George Washingtons pearly whites.

And if you have a suggestion for other strangely specific museums, please leave a note on our Comments page.

(Soundbite of song, Holiday Road)

Mr. BUCKINGHAM: (Singing) Holiday road. Holiday road.

WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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