A Look at Oral Health Care in Kenya

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When you think of oral health care, you probably think of toothbrushes and floss, but in rural Kenya, they take a different approach to oral hygiene. This video offers some insight into this different outlook on taking care of your teeth.

In this village in Kenya, people chew sticks to brush the surfaces of their teeth and keep their teeth and gums clean. They believe that toothbrushes are less effective than their sticks and toothpaste burns too much to use.

At University Associates in Dentistry, we can help you find the right oral health care plan to keep your teeth and gums in top condition. Make an appointment with a dentist in Chicago by calling (312) 704-5511.


Spotlight on Ancient Cavity Filling Techniques

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Getting a filling may not be anyone’s idea of a good time, but be happy you live in the here and now and didn’t have to get your cavities treated during ancient times. Today’s dentists are able to use modern technology—and anesthesia—to make sure the process is fast and comfortable, but things weren’t always this way. Here is a look at some ancient techniques for filling cavities that you’ll be happy to know haven’t been used in centuries.


Removing the Infected Pulp

When you see your dentist for a filling, after you receive your anesthesia, your dentist will remove the infected pulp from your tooth. Today, dentists use sophisticated and gentle equipment that effectively targets the infected pulp with as little disruption to the healthy parts of your tooth as possible. In ancient times, dentists removed the pulp from cavities as well. However, they would do so by digging it out with sharpened stones without any anesthesia.


Filling the Cavity

When the infected pulp is removed from a tooth, the filling is then placed in the space created in order to re-strengthen the tooth. Dentists today use composite, ceramic, gold, porcelain, and amalgam fillings. In ancient times, the filling materials were a bit different. Teeth that were discovered in Italy and were thought to be about 13,000 years old were filled with vegetable fibers, hair, and bitumen, which is derived from oil. Today, bitumen is used for repaving roads. Other teeth from ancient times that have been discovered were filled with other materials, such as beeswax, and for cavities that couldn’t be fixed and that led to tooth loss, the Mayans used gold wires to attach replacement teeth to the jaw.


At University Associates in Dentistry, you’ll be pleased to find the very latest in dental technology waiting for you, including CEREC and digital X-rays. Make your appointment for a dental consultation in Chicago by calling (312) 704-5511.

How World War I Affected Dentistry

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Historically, armed conflict has thrown a spotlight on the aggressive spread of deadly infectious diseases, which are easily transmitted when large numbers of people are displaced. But war has also had a lesser known, and more positive effect on dentistry. In 1914, Britain had no official dental branch of the armed services, and so dentists who were keen to serve their fellow countrymen enlisted as combatants.

The U.S. experienced similar problems. When it entered the war, the U.S. Army had just 86 officers on its dental staff to treat about 200,000 troops. As the number of enlisted men swelled, so too did the dental staff. Naturally, dentists who served their country in the war treated soldiers for routine dental problems, like toothaches and fractured teeth, as well as more severe trauma caused by the conflict itself. For many of the enlisted men, the dental care they received in the Army was the first they’d ever had.

At University Associates in Dentistry, we pride ourselves on offering the latest dental technologies and treatments to our valued patients. Call (312) 704-5511 to request an appointment for preventive care, cosmetic dentistry, or dental implants in Chicago.

Strange Dental Implants Throughout History

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Modern dental implants are comprised of titanium. The discovery that titanium is able to fuse with natural bone was made by accident in 1952. Since that time, dentists have continued to refine the materials and technique used to restore patients’ smiles. Although modern dental implants are an impressive innovation, implants have ancient roots. Throughout history, humans have used some strange materials to replace missing teeth.


In recent years, bamboo has been prized by homeowners as a sustainable, eco-friendly flooring material. That’s because bamboo can be harvested after just a few years of growth. The rapid growth rate of bamboo is perhaps one reason why the ancient Chinese decided it would make a good replacement for teeth. About 4,000 years ago, Chinese dentists carved the hard, durable bamboo into a tooth-shaped implant and then tapped it into the unfortunate patient’s jawbone.

Ox Bones

Ancient Egyptians relied on oxen. When they slaughtered an ox, they used every part of the animal possible. The hides were used to make furniture and the bones were used to make dental implants for missing teeth. The Egyptians held the oxen bone implants in place with gold wire. It’s unknown if the implants were placed before death or after it. It’s conceivable that the implants were placed after death, since great care was taken to prepare the bodies of the deceased for the afterlife.


In the 1930s, archaeologists were excavating an ancient Mayan site in Honduras when they discovered part of a human mandible. The jawbone was dated to about 600 CE, and is believed to be from a woman who died in her twenties. The jawbone had three dental implants made from tooth-shaped pieces of shells. Decades later, a researcher took radiographs of the mandible. He discovered that, based on the bone formation around the shells, these implants had been placed while the woman was still alive.

University Associates in Dentistry is known as leading experts in dental implants in the Chicago area. Our dentists specialize in same-day dental implants, which lets you walk away with a complete, beautiful smile in just one appointment. If you have missing teeth, call us today at (312) 704-5511.

A Look Back at the Radium Dial Girls: A Modern Dentist’s Worst Nightmare

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When radium was first introduced to the market in the early 20th century, it was marketed as not only safe but as a health remedy for a range of complaints. It was also popular for the way it glows. A popular line of watches with numbers painted with radium-laced paint became popular in the US, thanks to workers in a factory, later known as the radium girls. The effects on their health of their work, including their dental health, prompted the introduction of workplace safety regulations.

To create precise numbers of the dials of the watches they made, the radium girls were trained to use their lips to make the point of the brush as sharp as possible. After each number, the women would put their brushes in their mouths, swallowing a little bit of paint each time. Within a few years, they began to fall ill in large numbers, experiencing dental health problems and bone loss. During a tooth extraction, a dentist inadvertently pulled out the entire jaw of one of the radium girls.

Fortunately, the dentists in Chicago at University Associates in Dentistry don’t see radium-related problems like these, but they do help people with missing teeth and other oral health issues. To make an appointment with a dentist, please call (312) 704-5511.

Meet George Washington’s Dentures

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Like lots of other colonists, George Washington had dental problems. Although he did try to keep his teeth healthy with tooth powders, pastes, and brushes, he began to lose teeth early in his adult life, and by the time he was sworn in for his first term as President, he had just one natural tooth remaining. Modern dental implants weren’t available then, and so Washington tried a number of different denture configurations.

You can get to know George Washington’s dentures when you watch the accompanying video. Over the years, he had false teeth made from ivory, copper, silver, and brass. He even used a lead and tin alloy, which undoubtedly wasn’t good for his overall health.

In addition to providing dental implants, University Associates in Dentistry is pleased to offer high-quality, well-fitting dentures for patients in Chicago. You can request your dental consultation by calling a friendly staff member at (312) 704-5511.

Getting to Know Neanderthals Through Their Teeth

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Your dentist can discern a lot about your overall health by examining your teeth and gums. Similarly, scientists can learn about ancient Neanderthals by analyzing their teeth. Watch this video to find out what the real paleo diet was. It explains that in one study, scientists analyzed the DNA in the plaque in five sets of teeth that belonged to Neanderthals who lived between 42,000 and 50,000 years ago.

The results varied widely, depending on where the Neanderthals lived. Those in modern-day Belgium primarily ate wooly rhinoceros, wild sheep, and wild mushrooms. Neanderthals in Spain appear to have been vegetarians, primarily eating pine nuts, tree bark, moss, and mushrooms.

For modern dentistry in the Chicago area, you can turn to University Associates in Dentistry . Call us at (312) 704-5511 to request a general dentistry appointment or a consult for dental implants.

Examining the Surprisingly Long History of Tooth Decay

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There were no dentists thousands of years ago, but there wasn’t always a need for them. Human bodies have adapted and evolved over time to be able to eat comfortably, so tooth decay was not always a problem. Keep reading to take a look at the history of tooth decay.

Pre-Tooth Decay
It was about 10,000 years ago that humans learned how to farm. Before then, there were very few instances of tooth decay. Early humans were hunter-gatherers, and tooth decay was by no means rampant. Their teeth were equipped to chew through tough meats and scrape it off of animal bone. When farming became a popular practice, more grains and carbohydrates were introduced to the human diet. This made it more likely for cavities to occur, so there was a boom in dental decay following the innovation of farming. The interesting part is that tooth decay was an issue for one community of early humans that preceded farming.

Grotte des Pigeons
There is a cave in Morocco called Grotte des Pigeons, and those who inhabited the cave about 15,000 years ago were hunter-gatherers, not farmers. Farming hadn’t been invented yet, and somehow the inhabitants still suffered from serious amounts of tooth decay. This wore down their teeth and made it more difficult to eat, and there was no way to reverse the damage.

Acorns, Oats, and Legumes
It is thought that inhabitants of Grotte des Pigeons developed their tooth decay due to the acorns, oats, and legumes that they would snack on. It appears that the sweetness of the acorns, and the sticky consistency they took on when cooked, would stick to their enamel and cause cavities.

You can lower your risk of tooth decay and improve your oral health by seeing your dentist in Chicago at least once a year for a checkup. Browse through our website or call University Associates in Dentistry at (312) 704-5511 if you need a dental consultation.

Historic “French Disease” Treatments and Tooth Loss

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Syphilis, once widely known as the “French Disease,” has been known to us since the 15 th century, but effective treatments were not available until relatively recently. For centuries, the most commonly used cure for syphilis was mercury, an element used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Unfortunately, as we now know, mercury is highly poisonous and it can have corrosive effects on the human body. Tooth loss was one of the most common side effects of using mercury to treat ailments, along with skin ulcers and nerve damage. The 20 th century saw the development of antibiotics, notably penicillin, that quickly replaced use of mercury treatments for syphilis.

The experienced practitioners at University Associates in Dentistry are leaders in a wide array of important areas of dentistry, from sleep apnea treatments to cosmetic dentistry . We work to build strong and lasting relationships with all of our patients. To learn more, call (312) 704-5511 today.

Learning About Christopher Columbus via Dental Studies

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christopher columbus dentistry

In 1494, more than 1,000 of Christopher Columbus’ crew members established a settlement on the coast of the present-day Dominican Republic. La Isabela was abandoned after just a few years, and much of the ruins were mistakenly bulldozed into the sea. However, skeletons of the crew members remained, and thanks to new technology, their teeth have been carefully analyzed. They’ve revealed some surprising information about the crew members’ lives.

Teeth are chemically examined by analyzing their isotopes. Carbon isotope ratios can indicate a person’s typical diet. European skeletons would have greater concentrations of carbon 12, because they ate grains like barley and wheat. Oxygen isotopes can be used to determine the climate of where the person lived. And strontium isotopes indicate whether the person lived in an area with very old bedrock, like West Africa. Based on their isotope analysis, researchers have concluded that some of Columbus’ crew members were likely free black Africans. They would have arrived in La Isabela well before the slave trade was established. Less surprising findings include that the crew members suffered from scurvy, malnutrition, and physical stress.

Dental technology is constantly improving, and here at University Associates in Dentistry, we embrace new innovations that help our patients have a healthier smile. Call (312) 704-5511 for an appointment with a dentist in Chicago .

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