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The Grotesque, Mesmerizing Weirdness of #DentistSelfies

The dentist’s chair really ought to be just about the last place anyone takes a selfie. Think about it. Your mouth is clamped open, you’re wearing a bib, and you probably can’t feel your lips.

That hasn’t stopped people the world over from posting more than 8,500 #dentistselfies on Instagram. The images show patients enduring cleanings, fillings, and root canals, often under the influence of novocaine or laughing gas. The angle is unflattering, the lighting is terrible, and there’s often all manner of hardware in places no one really wants hardware, but these people revel in the grotesque weirdness. Narcissistic? Perhaps. But at least they’ve got a self-deprecating sense of humor about it. “I couldn’t look at myself without laughing,” reads one caption.

It’s unclear when dentist selfies started, but once you begin looking for them (if you’re not the squeamish sort), you find them almost everywhere. We’d like to think it started with Kim Kardashian and Weird Al Yankovic, both of whom tweeted pictures of themselves in dental chairs seven years ago. Celebrities from Brooke Shields to Lady Gaga have followed suit, and even Martha Stewart got in on it, offering a play-by-play of her crown replacement in a blog post.

Kim Brinkley, a dental assistant in Dallas, says people are forever snapping selfies. Sometimes they pose with props, like the cheesy “I Love My Dentist” hanging in one examination room. “They’re excited to show their friends and family, ‘Oh look, I’m getting ready to get my tooth fixed,’” she says.

Things got so crazy that Brinkley’s office had to institute a strict “no selfies during procedures” rule last year because people randomly snap a pic even as the dentists do their thing. It’s annoying, she says, and dangerous to boot. “The doctor and assistant have to be in a certain position, and if you raise your arm up to get a picture or video you could hit one of us,” she says. “And we’re up in your mouth with tools.”

People have, of course, braved far greater dangers for the sake of a selfie, from falling off buildings to crashing their cars. It’s both shocking and kind of amazing that there have been at least 49 selfie-related deaths since 2014. It’s unlikely anyone’s died taking a #dentistselfie, but it’s only a matter of time before one leads to an #erselfie.

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The Grotesque, Mesmerizing Weirdness of #DentistSelfies


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