March 2019

Volume 36, Issue 1

Embarrassing realities: The portrayal of dentistry in reality tv ‘dentertainment’

Authors: Alexander C L Holden Barry Gibson Heiko Spallek
doi: 10.1922/CDH_4423Holden09


Background: Dentists are not common subjects within reality TV. When presented in film, the overall impression has been reported to be negative. The British reality TV show ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ includes within its format, cases where complex and extensive dental treatment is presented. This analysis examines how these cases frame dentistry, as a rare example of the profession and its activities upon the small screen. Methods: 14 dental cases from the show were located and transcribed. Semiotic and thematic analysis was used to explore the deeper and hidden meanings and signs within the cases. This developed understanding of the implications of the show upon the public presentation of dentistry, oral health and disease, patients and dental professionals. Results: Five distinct themes were identified within the corpus of cases; Professional Values and Portrayal of Cosmetic Dentistry; The Presentation of Oral Health and Disease; Dental Physiognomy; Dentistry as Empowerment and Unequal Professional Relationships. Conclusions: ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ portrays a presentation of dentistry that focuses disproportionately upon restorative dental interventions, especially cosmetic dental therapies, in preference to preventative treatment. Dental disease is presented in a way that associates oral health conditions with dirt and as being caused by neglect and carelessness. Keywords: Dentistry, Cosmetics, Media, Reality TV, Public Health


Other articles in this issue

Article Pages Access
Editorial ‘No simple solutions, no single ingredient’: Systems-orientated approaches for addressing Wicked Problems in population oral health 3-4 Download
Dental Public Health in Action: The use of the NICE ten step model to conduct an oral health needs assessment in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw 5-8 Download
Caries-preventive efficacy of a supervised school toothbrushing programme in Northland, New Zealand 9-16 Download
Socioeconomic Variation in the association between Malocclusion and Oral Health Related Quality of Life 17-21 Download
Low rates of dental attendance by the age of one and inequality between local government administrative areas in England 22-26 Download
The relationship between body mass index and oral health status among Saudi adults: a cross-sectional study 27-32 Download
The acceptability of fluoride varnish and fissure sealant treatments in children aged 6-9 delivered in a school setting 33-38 Download
Interventions to reduce socio-economic inequalities in dental service utilisation – a systematic review 39-45 Download
Embarrassing realities: The portrayal of dentistry in reality tv ‘dentertainment’ 46-54 Download
Systems science and oral health: Implications for Dental Public Health? 55-62 Download
The Boundaries between Caries and Periodontal Diseases. What are the Implications for Education in Dental Public Health? Proceedings of EADPH/SESPO Pre-Congress Workshop held on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at The Centro Cultural Sa Nostra Congress Cen 63-86 Download


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