What’s your favorite tooth toy?

March 21, 2012

These toys inspired you to brush your teeth at night, maybe even got you thinking about a career in dentistry. They reflect what was happening in the world at the time, and they bring back childhood memories. And now you can see them all again at the National Museum of Dentistry.

These toys inspired you to brush your teeth at night, maybe even got you thinking about a career in dentistry. They reflect what was happening in the world at the time, and they bring back childhood memories. And now you can see them all again at the National Museum of Dentistry.

“Open Wide! Toothy Toys That Made Us Smile” will be on display at the museum from Nov. 6 through Jan. 30. The exhibit features more than 50 toys that got us excited about dentistry, including the Evel Kneivel rocket toothbrush complete with launching ramp, the original wind-up Yakity Yak chatterteeth and the first Cabbage Patch dolls with teeth.

“It’s incredible stuff. It really is fun,” museum Executive Director Jonathan Landers said. “I think that is the big piece. I want people to smile. I want people to be nostalgic.”

The toys in the exhibit date back to the 1950s, Landers said, and there’s just such a variety to see. There’s the Chuck Norris Karate toothbrush, the Barbie dentist, the Hopalong Cassidy cowboy toothbrush set complete with holster, and the Donnie and Marie bathroom radio and toothbrush set to name a few. Beyond that, visitors will have the chance to try out the Tooth Invaders video game from 1981, as well as visit the hands-on game corner to play some classic dental themed games like Crocodile Dentist and Mr. Mouth. There also will be comic books on display throughout the exhibit.

“It’s interesting how it goes along and parallels cultural incidences or events in the country,” he said. “And we’re very much interpreting the exhibit that way, to have it as a mirror of culture through the ages.”

Landers said he’s hoping the lure of puzzles, games and dolls from the past will bring families in to check out the exhibit as well as the rest of the museum. There will be activities scheduled around the exhibit to make it an even more enticing way for families to spend an evening or a weekend afternoon.

“It seemed like a natural way to bring in a broader audience and appeal to the nostalgia of adults who remember those toys growing up,” Landers said. “And also a fun activity for the family. That was really the goal. We came up with an exhibit that would get families to come and then see the whole museum, because I believe we have a special place and we always focus on our mission to educate kids and adults on why it’s important to take care of your mouth.”