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Off the Beaten Path: the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry

BY JOELLE HECKER
For the Daily
Published October 26, 2009

Though many may dread a visit to the dentist, there is an entire museum on campus dedicated to the art of dentistry. Toothbrushes with heads greater than two inches in length, floss made from silk and examination chairs grand enough for a king fill glass cases along the walls at the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry.

According to the museum’s curator, Shannon O’Dell, Dr. Gordon Sindecuse made a donation to create the museum more than 70 years after his graduation from the Dental School.

The museum — located in the Kellogg Building — first opened in 1992 with its original curator, Jane Becker, O’Dell said. Since it first came into existence, the museum has had three curators and gone through a major renovation.

The overhaul included the addition of display cases, a storage room and an atrium, which houses re-creations of dental offices from various decades.

O’Dell said all the artifacts in the museum are gifts from collectors and former Dental School faculty. They range from tins of tooth powder — a predecessor to toothpaste — to vintage x-ray machines and antique microscopes.

Along with the artifacts, the museum showcases the histories of their users and inventors.

O’Dell said many of the museum’s visitors are not dental students, but tour groups from University museum classes. She added that she would love to see an increase in the number of visitors and partially attributes the lower attendance records to the Museum’s concealed location.

O’Dell said the rarity of the museum is one of the things that makes it so interesting.

“There are just so many stories to be told,” she said.


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