A squeaky clean theater classic (anytime)

April 11, 2008

In a little room tucked away across from the Old Spaghetti Factory on Laclede’s Landing, there’s a set of 3-foot-high fiberglass teeth that ring a small stage. For those with dentophobia, the room full of tools and dental relics could be a torture chamber — but the whole point of the Dental Health Theatre is to get at kids before their attitude toward dentistry takes that turn toward phobia. The theater’s been around 31 years — some of my friends remember attending it as kids themselves — and the message is so simple that I initially wondered how they’d get an hour-long show out of encouraging kids to brush and eat healthy foods. I also wondered if S. would sit still for an hour of talking that would be completely over his head. Dental Health Theater

No worries on that score — the light-up teeth fascinated him, as you can see, and he stayed tuned in for way longer than I expected, until the marionette performance about a boy who ate too much candy. Then he climbed into my lap and took a little snooze until the lights came back up. Some of the other toddlers in our group lost interest too, but the rest of the audience, grade-schoolers on a field trip, seemed quite fascinated by it all.

The theater books groups of 15 or more (counting parents and kids) on weekday mornings at 314.241.7391. It’s free admission thanks to Delta Dental and all the local dentists who sponsor it through the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. Our own dentist’s name was on that list, and I thought of her as the schoolchildren eagerly anticipated their free toothbrushes as they exited the theater — she hands out toothbrushes at Halloween, and I’m sure she gets such a much less enthusiastic reception for her message then!

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