Largest dental museum in Asia opens in Bangkok
In August the Sirindhorn Dental Museum, located on the Phayathai Campus of Mahidol University, was officially opened to the public. The first of its kind and the largest in Asia, the Dental Museum is aimed at educating Thai people, especially children, about oral hygiene and care.
The museum spans an area of 620 square metres and is divided into five key exhibits, using interactive technology to help improve the understanding of the importance of oral health. The museum’s curators want that understanding to come in an entertaining way, hoping that if people learn about dental health in a fun way they will remember and apply the lessons.
The first zone in the museum is set up in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and pays tribute to the Royal Family’s support of dentistry in the Kingdom.
The second zone covers a history of dentistry in Thailand as well as China and India. It includes a prehistoric skeleton found in Thailand which had traces of unnaturally modified teeth.
This zone also explains how people took care of their teeth in the past. Notably, for example, during the reign of King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya, people would chew betel nut, believing it would lead to health stomachs and pleasant breath.
The third zone has an academic exhibition which has on display items from the Faculty of Dentistry, opened in Mahidol in 1972. It was the first dental institute in Thailand. The zone also has statistics on dentistry in Thailand, including the number of dentists per capita to the general population.
The fourth section includes a number of interactive exhibits, including a giant model of a mouth which is aimed at showing children how bacteria can harm their teeth.
The fifth and final section houses a large collection of dental materials, tools and other related items as well as pictures which reveal the development of dentistry from a marketplace spectacle to the complex setup it is today.
According to figures from the Bureau of Dental Health, Thailand has just 11,067 dentists nationwide. This equates to a dentist to population ratio of approximately 1:5,533. In most developed nations this figure is more like 1:2,000.
In Bangkok, the figures are heavily skewed at 1:1,039, which is 14 times higher than in the northeast of Thailand. There is a clear need to train dentists and encourage them to take up practice in those regions where specialists are clearly lacking.
The Sirindhorn Dental Museum is open from Monday to Saturday between 9:30am and 4:30pm (except public holidays) and admission is free.