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Woody Allen and the art of dentistry

As the Toronto Globe and Mail reports, some dentists are miffed that Woody Allen’s latest flick, Blue Jasmine, portrays dentists in a less-than-flattering light.

Woody Allen’s obsession with dentists actually goes way back. His 1978 short story, “If the Impressionists had been dentists,” answers the question: what if the impressionist artists had all become dentists instead of painters? In a series of letters from Vincent to his brother Theo, the dentist Van Gogh describes his woes.

In the first letter, the misunderstood and anguished dentist recounts how one of his patients, Mrs. Sol Schwimmer, is too bourgeois to appreciate the artistry of the bridge he has created. He also discusses a possible office-sharing arrangement with Cézanne.

In the next letter, Van Gogh goes on to describe how Degas criticized the unbalanced composition of his x-ray of Mrs. Stotkin’s mouth. The problem with the x-ray is that it showed all the cavities bunched on one side. The letter then describes how he completed a root canal but did not sign it, since he does not have a calling to do root canals.

In yet another letter, Van Gogh laments that Toulouse-Lautrec is so short that he can’t reach his patient’s teeth, which is too bad because he is really a very talented dentist.

And in yet another letter, Van Gogh announces that he is in love with Claire Memling, who has a perfect bite. He is so love with her that he brings her in for a recall exam, even though he last saw her four days ago. But his love is unrequited: Claire Memling rejects him in favor of an orthodontist.

All of which begs the question: why is Woody Allen so obsessed with dentists? Is his dental hygiene such that he has to visit dentists more often that he would like? Did he have a bad experience with an emergency dentist?

Jokes aside, Woody Allen may be on to something: dentistry is indeed an art.

Woody Allen, If the Impressionists had been dentists
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