National Dental Hygiene Month has begun and Exploration Place is helping to educate visitors about maintaining good oral health with the return of its health exhibit area, and its first new feature, Big Mouth, a 7-foot tall anatomically correct model of the human mouth.
The exhibit officially opens to the public on Saturday, Oct. 6, but guests of special reception for Big Mouth will get a special sneak peek on Friday, Oct. 5.
The new health area will focus on two aspects: to offer proactive ways to learn and maintain healthy habits, and to spark an interest in children (even adults looking for a second career) to pursue careers in the health field – which has a growing need now and for the future.
At Big Mouth, visitors will test their knowledge about good oral health using the exhibit’s different interactive touch points on teeth, gums, the tongue. There will also be information about the mastoid, adenoid, esophagus and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ).
Exploration Place received a $101,200 grant from Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation to help underwrite costs to produce Big Mouth.
“With the tremendous support from Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation, we have been provided the opportunity to bring to our community a fun, whimsical exhibit about oral health – Big Mouth,” said Jan Luth, Exploration Place President. “This exhibit is very timely, as there is an oral health crisis in Kansas – especially in western Kansas. There is also a shortage of dentists in our state. With Big Mouth our visitors will be able to take what they encounter and hopefully understand how they can apply healthy oral habits to their daily lives,” Luth said.
Delta Dental is also providing Education Kits that will be used with Exploration Place’s educational programs.
“Our partnership with Exploration Place provides us a unique opportunity to share valuable oral health information, from the Big Mouth exhibit to the Education Kits, with more Kansans. The Delta Dental Education Kits will be available for teachers to use in the classroom to continue education of proper oral health,” said Karen Finstad, Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation Executive Director. “We’re also very pleased to help launch the new health gallery with our contribution.”
Exploration Place efforts to educate about good oral health will “go social” during October’s National Dental Hygiene Month. One oral health factoid will be posted each day on Exploration Place’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ExplorationPlace) and Twitter page (@DiscoverAtEP). The information is being provided by Oral Health Kansas, a statewide coalition for oral health advocacy and by Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation.
Also in October visitors will enjoy special hands-on activities during the weekends, in partnership with the Student American Dental Hygienist Association (SADHA) of Wichita State University’s College of Health Professions. And Oral Health Kansas will provide three different Tips and Tricks fliers (in English and Spanish) for visitors to take home.
Other interactive components will join Big Mouth in the future, such as a big eye, brain, ear and more.