Dental museum adds exhibit dedicated to American College of Dentists

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Dental museum adds exhibit dedicated to American College of Dentists

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A detail of the gold-plated mace of the American College of Dentists, which is now on display at the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore. (Photo/National Museum of Dentistry)
Fred Michmershuizen, DTA

By Fred Michmershuizen, DTA

Tue. 13 April 2010

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BALTIMORE/NEW YORK, USA: The National Museum of Dentistry has added a new exhibit that will help teach the public about the American College of Dentists, the oldest national honorary organization for dentists.

The gold-plated mace and torch that have been used in American College of Dentists membership ceremonies for nearly 70 years are among the highlights of the new exhibit. The display also features an American College of Dentists’ Fellowship pin, key and rosette. Also on view is the William J. Gies Award, which recognizes College Fellows who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the profession.

“The National Museum of Dentistry preserves and celebrates the history of the dental profession,” said Jonathan Landers, executive director of the museum. “This is the perfect place to showcase these fragile and magnificent historic symbols of such a respected organization in dentistry.”

The American College of Dentists is the oldest national honorary organization for dentists. It was founded to elevate the standards of dentistry, encourage graduate study, and grant Fellowship to those who have done meritorious work. Membership in the American College of Dentists is by invitation only.

There are more than 7,400 Fellows, who are selected based on their contributions to organized dentistry, oral health care, dental research, dental education, the profession and society. Long regarded as the “conscience of dentistry,” its mission is to advance excellence, ethics, professionalism, and leadership in dentistry.

“We are honored to have the mace and torch on view at the National Museum of Dentistry,” said Dr Stephen Ralls, executive director of the American College of Dentists. “They represent an important historical link to key leaders of dentistry from the early 20th century onward.”

About the mace and torch

When the American College of Dentists was founded in 1920, a symbolic light —the torch — was designated to signify the role of the college as a source of enlightenment and guidance. The torch was crafted in 1939 by the Gorham Silver Co. of Providence, R.I., to serve as a symbol of office. The fluted staff, more than two feet long, is made of gold-plated bronze and decorated with ribbons engraved with the names of the founders of the American College of Dentists.

The mace was also made in 1939 by Gorham. It is more than two feet long and made of gold-plated bronze and silver. The base is adorned with faux amethysts, diamonds and emeralds. Crafted in the form of a caduceus symbolizing the medical professions, it includes the engraved names of 20 of the most eminent contributors to dentistry. The dome, with figures of two Egyptians holding the ends of an open scroll, is supported by depictions of 11 Egyptian scholars and a modern graduate.

To visit the museum

The National Museum of Dentistry is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Other exhibits include George Washington’s false teeth, vintage toothpaste commercials, and hands-on displays that are meant to educate visitors of all ages about the power of a healthy smile.

The museum is located at 31 S. Greene St., not far from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Admission is US$7 for adults, US$5 for seniors and students with ID, US$3 for children age 3-19; and free for ages 2 and under. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and major holidays.

(Source: National Museum of Dentistry)

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