After recently re-watching the Harry Potter series, I noticed that the Weasleys' clock shown in The Chamber of Secrets has a location setting of "dentist" for the family members. However, during the dinner party in The Half Blood Prince, Professor Slughorn seems to be completely unfamiliar with the concept of dentistry. Is this just an oversight by the script writers, or do some wizarding families have different hygiene practices? Could it possibly be explained due to the Weasleys' exposure to muggle oral care from Mr. Weasley's job at the Ministry?

  • Probably subliminal dread by JKR? :) Jul 7, 2014 at 16:19
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    Mr Weasley has a passion for all Muggle things. Maybe he pushed this excentricity to the point of sharing with Muggles the picturesque habit of visiting dentists?
    – Taladris
    Jul 7, 2014 at 16:37
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    I would suggest oversight, though it may be worth noting that in the books the Weasleys have no concept of dentistry either, AFAICR (Hermione explains it briefly in passing, I believe, to Mr Weasley)
    – Mac Cooper
    Jul 7, 2014 at 16:45
  • @MacCooper That makes sense - I seem to remember that now too. If you can dig up a reference, that would make a great answer.
    – Doresoom
    Jul 7, 2014 at 17:02
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    For when Ron is visiting his in-laws.
    – SQB
    Jul 7, 2014 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


There does appear to be dentistry in the wizarding world, just not the kind of 'hack and smash with a pair of rusty pliers' dentistry that we muggles are used to. Notably, the practice seems to be part of the general medical care offered by nurses.

If a wizard damaged their tooth, they would be well advised to visit a doctor or nurse skilled in the regrowing and straightening of teeth. At that point, the clock would turn to "DENTIST".

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione visits Madame Pomfrey and has her teeth 'fixed':

‘Hermione,’ said Ron, looking sideways at her, suddenly frowning, ‘your teeth …’

‘What about them?’ she said.

‘Well, they’re different … I’ve just noticed …’

‘Of course they are – did you expect me to keep those fangs Malfoy gave me?’

‘No, I mean, they’re different to how they were before he put that hex on you … they’re all … straight and – and normal sized.’

Hermione suddenly smiled very mischievously, and Harry noticed it too: it was a very different smile to the one he remembered.

‘Well … when I went up to Madam Pomfrey to get them shrunk, she held up a mirror, and told me to stop her when they were back to how they normally were,’ she said. ‘And I just … let her carry on a bit.’ She smiled.

As far as the film series is concerned, although Prof. Slughorn may be personally unaware of dentistry, there's a sign in Diagon Alley advertising a "Surgical and Dental Operator" visible in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, clearly indicating that the profession is at least slightly known in the wizarding world.

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  • I would argue that dentistry - as far as we know it - is unknown to wizards: permanent transfiguration or whatever you'd call Pomfrey's work seems to make Dentistry obsolete. Why check for cavities if you can magically fill them? Wizards don't have a taxi service because they don't need one; the same, I think, works here. It's such an easy and normal aspect of their life it's not even a profession. Recall, Tonks can heal broken noses, and she's not a doctor. Since neither film Slughorn or Book Arthur knowing the word, I would argue the profession of dentistry doesn't exist: it doesn't need to.
    – Mac Cooper
    Jul 8, 2014 at 9:39
  • @maccooper - Except that in the film we actually see a dental surgery (or at least an advert for one)
    – Valorum
    Jul 8, 2014 at 10:36
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    In James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper, James is taken to Muggle eye doctor for his glasses. Ginny's reasoning is: "Not everything has a magical solution. A Muggle eye doctor is as good as a magical one, and this one is more convenient than Diagon Alley." So it's possible that it's just a matter of convenience.
    – jnovacho
    Jul 8, 2014 at 11:52
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    @jnovacho Do we normally count fanon here? Jul 8, 2014 at 11:59
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    @Richard, oh I agree, it's there. But the OP asked if it was oversight -- there's no denying that if Slughorn didn't know the term dentist, when a great sign sporting the word hangs in Diagon Alley, then there'something wrong. It could be a character mistake or it could be an oversight from the filmmakers. I'll not pretend the sign wasn't there, but it seems enough people involved in the sixth film didn't know it was there or there wouldn't be the discrepncy to begin with :)
    – Mac Cooper
    Jul 9, 2014 at 21:30

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