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Summer science fun: ‘Your Spitting Image’ web site
Susan Richman, 5/12/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I don't 'pass on' every neat website I hear about, but this one just sounds too unique and fascinating to pass up-- and a great new way to cover science, health, forensics, human physiology, and new hi-tech developments in crime solving. Let me know what you think of this one! Who would have thought that there might be a 'National Museum of Dentistry :-).

'Your Spitting Image' website reveals what your mouth says about you

BALTIMORE, MD (May 12, 2010)— Did you know that the average person creates enough saliva each day to fill a soft-drink bottle? Teeth can survive fires reaching 2012 degrees F? Or a person can be identified from the DNA in saliva left behind on a postage stamp?

Your Spitting Image (www.dentalmuseum.org/ysi) is a new, interactive web site from the National Museum of Dentistry that reveals some surprising things that your mouth says about you. Find out how forensic dentists use dental records and DNA analysis to solve real missing person cases, discover the telling secrets revealed by saliva, and find out how your mouth is a window to health for your body.

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This engaging web site with interactive activities and teacher guides can be used in the classroom or at home for upper-level elementary through high-school age kids. Three sections explore topics related to forensics, genetics, and oral health. In Forensics: Solving Mysteries, learn how forensic dentists help law enforcement identify missing persons using x-rays, bitemarks, and DNA testing. Find out how saliva protects our teeth and how our mouth is connected to the health of the rest of our body in Saliva: A Remarkable Fluid. Bioengineering: Making a New You explores how stem cells and genes are being used to grow replacement teeth and cure disease.

Interactive activities include:

  • An exploration into how a few drops of saliva can be used to determine genetic make-up, diagnose infections, and identify illegal drug use
  • A step-by-step illustration of how forensic dentists can extract DNA from a tooth to learn the identify an unknown victim 
  • An animated cartoon that shows how brushing, flossing and rinsing leads to a healthy mouth
  • A visual timeline of the various ways mankind has sought to replace missing teeth for thousands of years, from the ancient Egyptians to the future of tooth replacement.

Teacher guides included on the site provide easy-to-understand, illustrated, age-appropriate lessons for middle and high school students that can be used in the classroom. All materials are designed to meet the National Science Education Standards developed by the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment and the National Research Council.

The Your Spitting Image web site was made possible by a generous grant from the Patterson Dental Foundation.


See amazing teeth feats, marvel at George Washington’s choppers, sing along to vintage toothpaste commercials, and discover fascinating hands-on exhibitions about the power of a healthy smile. Enjoy field trips, home school days, special events, and more. An Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this one-of-a-kind museum is located at 31 S. Greene Street, a short walk from the Inner Harbor.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and students with ID, $3 for children age 3-19; and free for age 2 & under, members, and active military personnel & their families. Open Wednesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday 1–4 p.m. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays. Call 410/706-0600 or visit www.smile-experience.org.

# # #

Amy Pelsinsky

Director of Communications

The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry

31 S. Greene Street | Baltimore, MD 21201 | www.smile-experience.org

P: 410/706-0052 | F: 410/706-8313 | apelsinsky@dentalmuseum.umaryland.edu 


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