Several new kid’s movies come out every month. With a constant barrage of themes, topics, and stories with a good sound moral at the center, it can be easy to forget about the details. Familiarizing children with dental care in movies can help them feel more comfortable when it’s time to visit the dentist. Here are six kid’s movies that had tooth related themes that you may have forgotten about.
This Disney movie took place about half in the ocean and a half in a fish tank in Dentist Phillip Sherman’s office in Sydney, Australia. Gill, Nemo, and the other tank dwellers spend the entire movie trying to brainstorm ways to escape back into the ocean before when they find out Dr. Sherman plans to give his niece, Darla, Nemo as a gift. Most of the tank fish have spent so much of their life in the office that they know his dental techniques by heart and according to the dental community the movie did a great job of accuracy in verbalizing the procedures mentioned.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton and Screenplay writer John August used the character of Willy Wonka’s dad, Wilbur Wonka, to give a backstory to Willy Wonka’s weird ways in this modern spin on the classic movie. Wilbur was the city’s most popular dentist and forbade poor Willy from eating candy as a child to protect his teeth from decay. He’s quoted in the movie saying, “Lollipops ought to be called cavities on a stick.” This movie, more appropriate for older kids, is the worst on this list in terms of favorable portrayals of dentistry.
Another Disney movie, this film starring Kirstie Alley whose much-loved father was also a dentist in a long line of dentists who inspired her to become one herself. She is suddenly hit by a car after being knocked into the road and finds herself in a purgatory of sorts called “Limbo.” There she is told she must perform community service to make her way to Heaven since she didn’t do enough good deeds on earth. She inadvertently agrees to become the tooth fairy as her act of service, and although she hates it at first, she grows to love it and the people she helps. In a confusing plot twist at the end, she wakes up from a dream and is given a second chance at life where she becomes the warm and loving dentist she always wanted to be.
Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
This oldie but goodie costars Hermey the Misfit Elf who decides he doesn’t like making toys and wants to be a dentist instead. He eventually opens a dental office at the North Pole and in a later sequel we find out Hermey attended a school of dentistry run by the Tooth Fairy herself. We find out he has a big crush on her and in the last scene of the sequel, Island of Misfit Toys, the Tooth Fairy arrives in her limousine to pick him up for a date.
This movie doesn’t have any big obvious ties to the dentistry profession like the previous movies, but there are a few subtle links that make us love it even more. First, the 6th best scarer on the leaderboards, Bob Peterson, clearly uses his perfectly cared for chompers to land him at the top of his profession. In one scene, we see his teeth are removable and are shoved into his mouth by a wiry, little assistant before he enters a door. Early in the film, we get a sneak peek of Sully’s Rocky-esque training sessions with Mike Wazowski as his trainer. Mike stands on his shoulder t one point and yells, “C’mon fight that plaque! Fight that plaque! Scary monsters don’t have plaque!” Finally, in the sequel, Monster’s University, we actually see the characters pre-Monster’s Inc, and Mike looks adorable in his metal retainer. During the early stages of character development, he actually had braces.
Normalizing dental care in films is a great way to get children more comfortable with dental care from an early age. Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, leading Spokane area dentist says,
“The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist within six months of getting their first tooth. Baby teeth are more important than many people realize because they directly affect the permanent adult teeth that are forming throughout childhood underneath them. Early childhood dental visits are just as important for the parents and caregivers as they are for the children. It gives the dentist and the caregiver an opportunity to discuss each child’s individual situation and create a plan to keep them in optimal oral health.”
Research suggests that forming healthy dental habits young leads to better oral health throughout their adult life. In fact, tooth decay is the most prominent chronic disease among children in the Unites States and more than 40% of children have some form of tooth decay by the time they enter school according to The Center for Pediatric Dentistry.
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