If by some chance you haven’t already heard, earlier this week, Dr. Walter James Palmer, an american dentist from Minnesota, hunted and killed Cecil the lion. Cecil was the most famous lion in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks. The dentist has now apparently gone into hiding. There has been coverage of the story all over the news and social media.
The media seems to love the fact that this guy is a dentist. In all of the articles that I have read, Walter Palmer is identified as an “American dentist.” I question why that is a relevant detail. If Walter Palmer was a teacher or an engineer, would we be reading that in the headlines? Maybe.
Maybe I just notice it more because I am a dentist, but it seems to me like dentist are often portrayed in poplar media as something to be feared. This view can leave someone so afraid of dentists that they refuse to get regular dental check ups. This is bad because we know that oral health is linked to systemic health and having an infection in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.
Whether you approve or disapprove of this man’s actions, please do not let this unfortunate event keep you from going to the dentist. If you are afraid of dentist, we are here to help. If you haven’t been in a while, make an appointment and get your teeth checked. We won’t hurt you.
I’m not “lion.” Don’t be a scaredy cat. If you do get nervous, just tell yourself, “hakuna matata.”
And that’s all the lion puns that I have for now.
Dr. Drew Byrnes