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Dental fear and anxiety

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Several media representations of dentists have allowed society to perceive dentists in negative light which have most definitely lead to a barrier in dental attendance. Movies which have portrayed dentists as the villain have impacted the way, children specifically, develop an image of what dentists and dentistry is like in their minds. For instance, movies such as the Disney cartoon, Finding Nemo (2003), where the dentist captures Nemo the clownfish and plans to give him to his brace- and headgear-wearing, violent young niece as a present.

Whilst the dentist himself is relatively benign, the dental surgery becomes a place of threat and potentially violent death at the hands of the niece. Along with the many other children movies which display dentists in this way, there is clearly a buildup of negative views on dentists in which is already put in place from a young age. Another well-known children’s movie is Charlie and the Chocolate factory (2005), in which one of the key roles played is the character Willy Wonka who explains his traumatic past as a child with a dominant dentist father. Wonka is portrayed as a child who has a history of emotional trauma with his malevolent father who forbade him from sweets of any sort as well as making him wear disfiguring and alienating braces. The movie includes a flashback to his childhood where his father had allowed him to go trick or treating on Halloween only to spitefully burn all his candy he had worked hard to obtain right in front of him.

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As Willy Wonka was only a young child this allows the audience, who are mainly young children, to immediately form a negative depiction of dentists in their mind early on in their lives. Dentists have been perceived this way in movies as early as the 1930s, for instance in 1932, a short film named The Dentist, WC Fields played an incompetent dentist who had not used pain killers when treating patients. This view of dentists being associated with fear and pain may have originated from the history of dentists and old dentistry tools such as forceps which were used to extract teeth. Historically, dentistry was not a profession itself but in fact dental procedures were often performed by barbers. Why are barbers scary? Surprisingly although barbers seem relatively harmless in the modern day, during the medieval ages a common treatment called bloodletting was performed by barbers as well as other medical treatments such as extracting teeth and treating wounds. Bloodletting is where a vein is cut open and the blood is allowed to drain, this treated a range of diseases. This lead to an interpretation of the colours of a barber’s pole; the red represents the blood being drained, the white represents the bandage and it is said that the blue represents the vein. As a result , dentists which eventually beca

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