Dentilia, the prosthetics practice, is the oldest business on Hoogstraat between Mariniersweg and Oostplein. A unique laboratory full of technical wizardry, it first opened its doors in 1956. Is addition to the exceptional role that Dentilia fulfils in Hoogstraat’s history, it was the first dental institute to open in the Netherlands.
A unique laboratory full of technical wizardry, it first opened its doors in 1956.
Before Dentilia opened, the current owner Arthur van Wijk explains, dentists were always the ones to measure patients for a set of dentures. With the opening of Dentilia, however, customers could for the first time walk into a shop, receive advice, and purchase a set of dentures the very same day. In addition, it made use of technically innovative materials such as synthetic resin, and even then Dentilia was cheaper. No wonder that dentists vehemently opposed the arrival of Dentilia.
No wonder that dentists vehemently opposed the arrival of Dentilia.
Modern by Mr Maas
The innovative character of Dentilia also shone through in the appearance of the laboratory. An interior architect, Mr Maas, was appointed to design the layout. He divided the shop into various zones. At the front, behind the big window, was the modern office, and placed behind the Luxaflex partition – the ultimate in modern furnishings at the time – were two reading tables for customers. Right at the back was the workshop for denture technicians. The interior and way of working at Dentilia were very modern at the time. No longer were customers at the mercy of an authoritarian dentist, but could instead make decisions on their own. With that, the shop perfectly reflected the post-war zeitgeist, in its transparent and innovative way of working. What’s more, this progress was presented in a wonderfully modernist interior. It was truly pioneering.
With that, the shop perfectly reflected the post-war zeitgeist, in its transparent and innovative way of working. What’s more, this progress was presented in a wonderfully modernist interior. It was truly pioneering.
From Veemarkt to Dentilia
The clientele that came to Dentilia were not always as modern, however. People came from all over the country, even from rural areas. The current owner, whose father ran the business back then, recalls that people sometimes asked for a bucket of water to flush the toilet, unfamiliar as they were with the workings of the modern water closet. Farmers even called in after a day’s trading at the Veemarkt cattle market down the road. “In overalls, with a cap on, dung stuck to their clogs and big coarse hands clutching the money they had earned that day.” Boxes of cigars and cigarettes lay waiting on the reading tables for customers, who gladly made the most of the offer. Although the reconstruction years were ones of optimism, it was also a period of poverty. Some people from the neighbourhood were only too happy to come and ask a question about their dentures, just for the sake of a free cigarette.
“In overalls, with a cap on, dung stuck to their clogs and big coarse hands clutching the money they had earned that day.”
Dentilia prospered right from the festive opening, its popularity explained in part by the widespread advertising campaign conducted by the business. Two times a year cards were sent to three million households, which meant that twice a year every letterbox in the country received a card from Dentilia, the “most modern Dental Institution in the Netherlands”.
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