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26 Jan 2022

Killer Teeth

Killer Teeth

In the media, villains are portrayed with physical indicators that let the audience know that they’re the bad guy. Generally, the appearance of villains in media play on stereotypes – an evil witch would be portrayed as ugly and a monster would typically be portrayed as unintelligent. A lot of the time villains are also portrayed as having poor oral hygiene in the appearance of terrible looking teeth, which adds to their scare-factor. Some classic media villains with awful teeth include Pennywise the Clown, Regan from The Exorcist, and Freddy Kreuger. Typically, the truth behind villains in the media is far from the image an audience is shown and it’s been said that killers portrayed in horror films are wildly unrealistic. This may be the case for a murderer in one’s dreams but killers with bad teeth may not be just a stereotype.

An Infamous Case

One of the most famous cases in true crime history that shocked the Western world to its core is the case of Richard Ramirez: The Night Stalker. Born in Texas in 1960, Ramirez was subject to a tumultuous, to say the least, childhood. His family were not very wealthy and it’s known that Ramirez was subject to abuse growing up. It wasn’t until 1984 that Ramirez’s reign of terror begun.

Los Angeles was experiencing an unknown killer who snuck into people’s homes through unlocked windows and doors, but some people managed to get a look at his teeth which were aesthetically quite unique. Growing up, Ramirez spent most of his time with a degenerate uncle or was left to his own devices, and this led to a staple breakfast of sugar-coated cereal and Coca Cola while he also never brushed his teeth. The result of this, and developed drug addiction in adult life, meant that his teeth were in a state of decay. He also experienced tooth loss and this meant that his teeth were particularly recognisable, especially in contrast to his face which a lot of women thrilled over during his trial.[i] Ultimately, the appearance of Ramirez’s teeth led to his arrest as a woman recognised him outside a convenience store because his teeth looked so similar to the police sketch circulating the media. The ghastly state of The Night Stalker’s teeth also led to his conviction as a dentist was able to disprove his alibi when they testified that they worked on his teeth in LA at the time of the attacks, and of course, they remembered his teeth.

Some would say that being arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death row was the best thing that ever happened to Ramirez because he was able to get his teeth fixed – something he would have never been able to afford had he remained a free man. While awaiting trial, Dr Alfred Otero worked on Ramirez’s teeth. The treatment carried out took nine months to complete and included root canal, fillings, and treatment for decay. This led to the stalkers smile completely transforming and during his trial it was noted that he could not stop smiling.

The Role of the Technician

In cases as complex as that of Ramirez’s the treatment planning is going to be absolutely vital. Working closely with a technician on complex cases from the outset saves time and money as the technician’s perspective is invaluable when it comes to preparation, aesthetic considerations, and the best materials to use. A technician will also be responsible for pointing out design flaws, identifying defects of impression models, and initiating in-person visits when necessary. As well as this, involving technicians in the treatment planning process allows for a collaborative effort to be made on a case where each stage can be discussed. Overall, working collaboratively and effectively reduces needless mistakes, decreases stress, and builds trust between practitioners.

In order for a dental technician to be able to work with a dentist through the treatment planning stage their knowledge and expertise needs to be up to date. As the industry is constantly developing attending regular training is as significant as ever. While many people attend online courses for CPD, nothing beats an in-person conference where you can network and grow as a professional. The Dental Technology Showcase 2022 can provide dental technicians with those opportunities. Here you have more than forty hours of free accredited CPD, more than fifty speakers, a network of 2500 peers, as well as dedicated workshops and on-stand training available to you. What more do you need?

Overall, despite the portrayal of villains in the media the real-life effects of tooth decay are detrimental to a patient and complex restorative cases require a team effort to reach optimal patient satisfaction. The role of the dental technician is integral when it comes to restorative treatment and they must take responsibility for their skills and knowledge reaching maximum capacity.    


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