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February 9th, 2018
The top five: Toothache
You’ll be a dentist! You have a talent for causing things pain.(Little Shop of Horrors)
To show someone your teeth is to resist, colloquially. Perhaps this saying goes back to Saint Apollonia of Alexandria. In the year 249 A.D. the virgin is said to have been attacked during the persecution of Christians. She was knocked out of her teeth and threatened to be burned at the stake if she did not renounce her Christian faith. Apollonia chose martyrdom and has been the patron saint of dentists ever since. Today, February 9, marks the anniversary of her death and is also the official day of toothache. Those who suffer from such pain should address their prayers to Saint Apollonia for pain relief – Pope John XXI allegedly already advised this.
The relationship between people and dentists is a difficult one. The German Society for Dental Phobia suspects that two thirds of the population are regularly afraid of visiting a dentist. According to the Technical Health Insurance, every fifth German is afraid of treatment. The reason for dental phobia often lies in traumatic experiences as a child, such as drilling. Consequently, many people postpone visiting the doctor as long as possible if they have dental problems. Toothaches are a sign of problems that should be corrected immediately. Otherwise, the consequences could be much worse and more difficult to repair.
Damaged teeth can cause the most pain. This is due to the pronounced nerve cords of the individual teeth. These are connected to the nerve tracts of the facial nerve, which is why toothache can radiate to the ears, neck and head. The causes are periodontitis, lack of enamel or, most often, caries. Dental problems in this country are constantly declining. Between 1997 and 2005 alone, the number of caries-free children almost doubled from 42 to 70 percent. As far as the caries infestation in children is concerned, Germany, along with Denmark, is one of the best in an international comparison – twice as good as France, Spain or Austria.
|In Park Chan-wooks Oldboy the hero tries his hand as a hobby dentologist. The number of periodontal diseases is also declining among young adults and young seniors. Nevertheless, the fear of visiting the dental practice in Germany is great, for example every second person is afraid of the drill. Because sometimes short-term pain is necessary to correct odontalgia, the feeling of pain emanating from the tooth. “You’ll be a dentist! You have a talent for causing things pain”, sings Steve Martin’s sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors about his mother’s professional prognosis. So it’s not surprising that toothaches are often used as an effective means of torture in movies. Be it to punish for a previous behavior or to get information.
Jason Isaac’s spa doctor in Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness has Dane DeHaan’s Wall Street broker drill into a healthy tooth, while Choi Min-sik’s protagonist in Park Chan-wooks Oldboy hammers his opponent’s teeth for clues. The loss of teeth is humorously staged in comedies, whether it’s in Home Alone Joe Pesci’s gold tooth or in The Hangover Ed Helms’ dentist himself. Rather subtle and a sign of different problems, Darren Aronofsy’s Requiem for a Dream features the teeth grinding of diet pills addict Ellen Burstyn or Essie Davis’ dental problems in Jennifer Kent’s psycho-horror film The Babadook.
Teeth can of course play other roles in movies. As an apparent cry for help in a Rabbi anecdote in A Serious Man by the Coen brothers or as the trigger for the encounter of two married couples in Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane. The fact that our identity can be proven through the individual characteristics of our teeth, ante and post mortem dentition matching and ante and post mortem teeth matching, was integrated into both John McTiernan’s thriller Wild Things and Jonathan Lynn’s comedy The Whole Nine Yards. Of course, pain can also be caused to others by teeth, as in Jess Weixler’s vagina-dentata figure in Mitchell Lichtenstein’s horror film Teeth from 2007.