University of New Hampshire American Dental Dreams Response Discussion

I’m trying to study for my Communications course and I need some help to understand this question.


Caroline McManus

#1 REQUIRED. In his article about the American Dental Dream, Nathan Hodges discusses the impact of the cultural ideal of perfect white teeth. What is the American Dental Dream? What is the main point Hodges is making? How does he use his own experience to illustrate his ideas? Do you agree with him? Why or why not? Has this ideal impacted your own sense of self? Why or why not?

Throughout the article, Nathan Hodges discusses what the American Dental Dream is, which is “the cultural desire for straight, white teeth” (Hodges, 1). As the piece continues, Hodges explains that the true American Dental Dream is not always achieved by all. Hodges also explains the underlying factors of what it really means to have achieved this dream or not “No matter how often I brush, I can’t scrub away my working-class roots” (Hodges, 1). I chose this quote to highlight that achieving this dental dream wasn’t just for show, but to display your social status to those who see you. As the article goes on, the author explains how culture tells us that it is “normal” to have straight white teeth, and thats what makes others think more negatively about you if you don’t. Hodges mentions that it is difficult for the poor and working class to achieve the dream “Economic structures created by our capitalist culture make it difficult for the working poor to achieve the American Dental Dream”(Hodges, 2).

The main point that Hodges is trying to make is that, the presentation of your teeth has many other meanings other than just the way they look, also that teeth revolve around money status in society. At just a young age it is explained in the article that teeth already begin costing parents money “90% of American homes are visited by the Tooth Fairy and the average payment per tooth is $2.42”(Hodges, 6). Hodges uses these types of examples to show the real underlying meanings of teeth for people. Using his own experience of living with a snaggle tooth due to lack of funds to achieve the American Dental Dream, Hodges highlights what life is like living this way, to have the reader understand his message better. I agree with his thoughts towards what teeth truly mean because I too have experienced people judging others based on what their teeth look like. When people make comments such as “Their teeth are pretty messed up I bet their family cant afford to fix them” this is a time where I can can agree with Hodges that people act in a way like he describes.

Hodges’ article has impacted my own sense a self because of his logic he shared throughout this article and his own story. The author put many different perspectives into what teeth mean to him, which can mean the same to others but, could also be a little different. Someones problem area on their body could be something nobody else realizes, or something everyone sees, but that person deals with it in their own way. As mentioned in this piece, Hodges claims that when he was younger he began treating his snaggle tooth as a “separate entity” by giving it its own name as a way of coping with having an insecurity. My biggest insecurity is my nose because I really don’t like how big it is or the bump in the middle of it, but, as I’ve grown older I’ve gotten used to it. An after reading this article, I learned that this is something I need to embrace and learn to live with because it is not going away.

#2. How important do you think nonverbal attractiveness is in your romantic relationships? Why? What do you consider to be nonverbally attractive? Nonverbally unattractive? Where do these ideas come from? What other factors beyond nonverbal attractiveness do you think are important to consider when choosing a mate? Do you think gender is a factor in assessing attractiveness?

Personally, I believe nonverbal attractiveness is somewhat important in romantic relationships, but not the most important. In my opinion verbal attractiveness is the utmost important in relationships because this is how you get to know people. I do believe that nonverbal attractiveness is important as well because in a lot of situations that is how you are first attracted to someone. For example, smiling at someone can be a form of nonverbal communication that draws one person to another, to then begin verbal conversation. Along with that, another example is being captivated nonverbally by what someone is wearing. These two

In my opinion, something I consider nonverbally attractive is when somebody wants to get your attention so they make eye contact with you so you notice. Something that I find nonverbally unattractive is when someone motions to you with their hands to come to talk to them. I find this unnatural and an uncomfortable situation to be in when there are many other options. These ideas come from the way we instinctively act around others that we may not know. As humans we still use nonverbal attractive and unattractiveness when we do know the person as well. We use these as another form of communication with one another, usually to get ones attention.

When considering a significant other, there are many important things to consider when making a decision to be with this person. The reason there are many things to consider would be because this person could be in your life for a very long time, which will effect your happiness as well. For example, how they communicate with you on a regular basis, meaning if they are open with you or if they hide a lot of things is something to think about. Another thing to consider is, if they are respectful of you and your life with family and friends included. I do believe gender is a factor in assessing attractiveness. I believe this because everyone is different and most people will not like the same gender as you making their opinion on someone a lot different than your own, because most likely you will not be attracted to the same kind of person.

Catherine Hevey

1: The American Dental Dream is the ability to afford dental care to maintain a perfect smile. It is “—the cultural desire for straight, white teeth.” (Hodges 1) It highlights privilege and class for those who can go to the dentist. It is “a national ethos as difficult to achieve for the working poor as the other American Dream. And just like the other American Dream, it is a story of social mobility built on appearances.” (Hodges 1) The main point that Hodges is trying to make is that people in the low class and who can’t afford to go see a dentist have a hard time maintaining a “perfect smile” by using his personal stories and stories of others that he interviewed to gain some perspective. With the hardship of having what is deemed a perfect smile, it affects how you feel about your smile and can cause low self-esteem. Hodges uses his own experiences by highlighting his mother and stories about her teeth using poetry through her words. For example, his mother describes how growing up, “Grammaw just didn’t have the money to fix my teeth. She had five kids to support and utilities and food came first. She done what she could. The dentist told me you and your brother both needed braces but I didn’t have the money. Me and your dad were both struggling to make ends meet.” (Hodges 2). He also describes a scene at Christmas with his whole family and teeth are mentioned through looking at a TV at other smiles or commenting on his family’s teeth.

After reading the “American Dental Dream,” I automatically wanted to go brush my teeth. Up until reading this, I had never really thought of teeth as the “American Dental Dream” before. I just know that I am privileged where I go to a dentist every 6 months and know that it will be paid for. After reading the article and letting it sit for a little bit, I do agree with Hodges because he makes valid points through stories and evidence. The fact that “Dental care is not high on the health care policymakers’ list of concerns, as it represents less than 5% of all health care spending (Thomas, 2009).” (Hodges 6) is sad to think about. A statement that stuck out to me was “It is hard to understand how teeth can strongly impact a person’s life, when you are in a position to take your teeth for granted.” (Hodges 6). I believe that I take my teeth for granted. A lot of people do because we don’t know what it is like to have to struggle for it. We complain about going to the dentist as we complain about going to the doctor or complain about little things in life when there are a lot of people who can’t afford to fix their smile. It is eye-opening for me.

I would say that this ideal has impacted my sense of self a little bit in my life. I have been insecure about my 2 front teeth for a long time. There is staining and the cause of that could be a variety of things but I don’t particularly know. I remember going to the dentist to try to “fix the problem” when in reality, it didn’t do anything drastic in changing my smile. Other than that, I am not particularly insecure about my smile because I have been told that I have a great smile. My mom says that my smile was never forced and that it looked natural. When you are told that you have great attributes, you tend to believe it, appraisal, so I have never really thought that I have had a bad smile.

Source Used for the First Question

Hodges, Nathan. American Dental Dream. 2015.

2: According to Interplay (Adler, et al., 2018), Edward Hall, a pioneering researcher describes personal space, intimate space, social space, and public space as the four zones of territory (pg. 185). Each of the four zones “reflects a way we feel towards others at a given time,” (pg. 95). The intimate zone is the closest where people who are close to one another use this to comfort one another, showing affection, etc. (pg. 185). Personal distance is the next zone where we keep someone in a close range but not too close to us (pg. 186). Social distance is the third zone, which helps with how we respond and acknowledge others (pg. 186). Public distance is the farthest zone according to Hall, which is what teachers use in a classroom and the further this distance is, the harder it is to communicate (pg. 186).

Overall, COVID-19 has changed my sense of social distance and personal distance. With COVID-19, social distancing has become more common to prevent the spread of the virus, staying six feet away from others. I am more aware of how close I am to those around me and making sure they are not getting into my personal space because you never know. I am wary to go out in places where there is going to be a lot of people. My boundaries have changed with COVID-19. I know have to think of where to go with not a lot of people around.

Touching is the biggest impact for me with COVID-19. I love hugging my family and friends because it is comforting and makes me feel loved. It is isolating at times. I’m hesitant about hugging my grandparents because I don’t want them to get sick. My grandmother is 80 years old and my grandfather is 81 years old and they are a vulnerable group. At least I can still hug my mom because we live in the same house. There have been times where my dad has had some close calls with coming in contact with someone who might have had COVID-19 as he works in healthcare. I wouldn’t be able to see him for two weeks so he could quarantine. When the two weeks would be over, I would give my dad the biggest hug and it felt good.

In general, I hate it when people don’t honor my boundaries. It is as if they don’t respect my personal space or personal bubble. I remember in 6th grade, there was this boy who invaded my bubble and tapped my chest area. It made me feel uncomfortable and I told my parents. He was disciplined in some way for the matter. As far as COVID-19, invading someone’s personal space is dangerous. If you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, you could give it to that person and it would create a chain reaction.

Source Used for the Second Question

Adler, R.B., Rosenfeld, L.B., Proctor II, R.F. (2018). Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication. Oxford University Press.

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