When you hear the name Walt Disney, what kind of images does it produce within your mind? Some may picture theme parks, big budget films, and even loved animated characters, but it's unlikely that you would picture an average dentist. In reality, before all of the famous icons of the Disney empire became well known and before Walt was the center of discussion across the world, a simple dentist hired him to complete a film about oral health. Through a film you've likely never heard of called "Tommy Tucker's Tooth," Walt Disney helped an average dentist to tell a fictional story about the dangers of not brushing your teeth:
Lessons in Animation
As Walt Disney showed throughout his career time and time again, he enjoyed the combination of both live action film and animation. When a local dentist named Thomas McCrum hired Walt to teach children in Missouri schools about proper oral health, this combination happened for one of the very first times. A live action film featuring two separate boys who had opposing tooth brushing habits was accompanied by a look inside their mouths to see the "acid demons" (plaque) that resided there.
The Difference Matters
While the animated short was a fun way of addressing the topic with kids, the reality is that there are many horrible things that can result from not simply brushing your teeth regularly. Just as the two boys in the early Disney short revealed, there's a big visual difference in the harm the "acid demons" can cause to your teeth:
- Your gums should never bleed when brushing or flossing. If they do, it's because bacteria has built up and you could be experiencing the early signs of gingivitis.
- According to studies completed by researchers, those who leave their oral health open to decay and disease are more prone to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
- Poor dental health can lead to an increased risk of getting pneumonia by breathing in microscopic bacteria from the mouth into the lungs. In fact, studies have shown that there is actually a higher mortality rate from pneumonia in those who suffer from oral health issues.
In Walt's animated short, the differences between the two boys are staggering: one boy (who brushes his teeth) applies for a job and gets it, while the other boy (who has poor oral health) doesn't. It seems almost as if the moral of the story is to point out that if you don't brush your teeth, your entire life will suffer—and in reality, that's the truth. As researchers and dentists (like those at Park Dental) discover new ways that oral health is linked to the overall body, it becomes clearer and clearer that the entirety of a person suffers when teeth are neglected.