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Example research essay topic: York Cambridge University Dental Caries - 2,412 words

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... d warming of climate where there is an increase in the growth of plant material and plant foods. This change would have promoted a growth in subsistence farming, at the very least. This would have increased the amount of plant carbohydrates and thus there was an increase in the occurrence in evidence of caries. Again in the Mesolithic there is further warming in the surrounding climate to the point where an even greater amount of plant food harvest is attainable for human consumption. Frayer found that for the Mesolithic, there was a negative correlation between rates of caries and latitude.

This was the case where skeletal assemblages from northern sites continually show a decrease in caries, where those of southern sites bring with it a marked increase. As opposed to those from the later upper Paleolithic and even those of slightly northern Mesolithic, the implications of this are obvious with regards to the interpretation of climate and substance. Coarse diets, as consumed by earlier groups of peoples were a natural way of reducing the incidence of dental caries, as the rough foods consumed tends to scour the teeth free of food debris and thus preventing the build-up of dental plaque. Also with the diet effecting the frequency of caries on teeth it can also effect the location of these caries. The reasons for this include for example, within western populations there is a very soft diet.

This again does not allow for a cleaning of the pits and fishers, therefore a natural cleaning process is eliminated, leaving a high amount of caries on the occu sal surfaces. Among Prehistoric populations there is a greater incidence of caries within a female section in most populations that have been studied. This raises the question why this difference, and what are the causes and are these differences physiological or behavioral? It is possible that the age of an individual can play a factor with regards to the occurrence of dental caries. It is generally accepted that in most populations women tend to live slightly longer lives than that of men within their respective groups.

Thus there would be a greater exposure to the process that would cause caries to form. Also the point that female dentition erupt occurs earlier that that of their male counterparts they are again exposed to carious producing factors (Dunbar 1969). At this point in this paper I believe that I have shown conclusively that there is a direct correlation between the move to agricultural movements within human population, so now I will show how this effected the differences in gender and caries. One such explanation relies heavily on a behavioral explanation. One such explanation shows evidence from the New World where pre contact Native Americans had just such a complex.

Larson, Griffin and Shavit (1991) theorize that the division in labor in agricultural societies is a major impetus for this difference. They propose that a female was responsible for planting, plant care and gathering, whereas a male was responsible for hunting and the collection of fauna. Therefore although men would have been exposed to a greater percentage, as opposed to those of past to plant foods within their diet, women would have had the greatest exposure and the incidence of ingestion of these plant foods would be greater. So inevitably the occurrence of dental caries would have a greater impact on the dental health of females within this group. Again these same authors contend another area of behavior that might have influenced this complex. Their conclusion is that there is a difference in the pattern and frequency in the eating habits of such individuals.

They contend females would have had a greater contact with these plant foods, where an irregular eating pattern would have been employed thus the number of time, where meals occur is greater. Whereas men would not have been eating smaller more frequent meals, rather the opposite where there would have been larger more regular meals (Frayer, 1989). And if these individuals were on a sustained hunt than there would have been a less that average exposure to cryogenic foods. Therefore social roles might have played a significant role into the introduction of caries into the everyday life of early agriculturists. Caries are a very ancient and widespread decease, it has been found that as far back as Australopithecine of south Africa had even been affected (Robinson 1952: Clement 1956), as well Homo erectus (Brodreck 1948). In the Neanderthals of Mount Carmel/Palestine was as common place as in the upper Paleolithic.

This said caries were, and are not exclusive to Humans, modern apes were affected and as far back as Pliocene animals and Pleistocene mammals. Caries are also present in domesticated animals especially when infected with Sheptococcus mutans (Brothwell 1980) According to current knowledge the rate of caries increased exorbitantly with the switch from Hunter Gather, to the Neolithic when food became rich in carbohydrates, which has increased over time. The frequency of dental caries in a skeletal collection can be expressed in a number of ways; a paleo pathologist could score caries as absent or present in individual skeletons. Then us that data to express the proportion of the total number of skeletons that were examined. Inherently the problem of examination lies within the burial environment along with the individual. This problem is that teeth are not stable within there sockets, and archaeological or other excavations tend to facilitate the occurrence of their deposition, and eventual loss in the burial environment and through the subsequent excavations.

The inherent process of intrusion that these excavations cause, along with handling of these remains, during such possess as examination curation and cleaning. Also these problems surface within the burial environment where an acidic matrix may cause a premature deterioration and thus a loss if vital information, especially if there is only a partial loss of dentition where a lack of caries may be incorrectly interpreted. Other factor that can influence carious condition, include age, where an individuals exposure to conditions that cause caries is increased over time in an older individual. Another condition that effects the examination and interpretation is modern techniques, more specifically tooth extraction where the affected tooth is removed and the information is not gained by the investigator How the disease has been treated in the past During the historic period, the disease was thought to be gangrene of the teeth.

Gangrene is death of part of the body. If left untreated, a gangrenous area increases in size until the afflicted individual became ill and died. Caries was treated as gangrene of other parts of the body was treated at that time, by surgical removal. Extraction was the equivalent of amputation for gangrenous limbs (Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, 1975). The surgical specialty of dentistry developed because of the high demand for caries treatment by extraction.

Extraction is physically difficult in young people with good periodontal health. However it was effective in eliminating the disease from an individual when all of the teeth had gone. An alternative method of surgical removal, and a simpler one than extraction, was local debridement by cleaning out the decayed area. Many dentists advocated using a small file to abrade away approximal areas of teeth, including the area of the early lesion, to treat the disease. After the file was used the area was left open to saliva. This had some advantages because it was a simple treatment and the decay was slow to recur.

But it also had the disadvantages that food tended to lodge between the teeth and the teeth tended to move over time. (Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, 1975) Local removal and then filling the resultant cavity was also attempted. The decay was removed with hand scrapers ('excavators) or rotating burs. The early filings sealed badly and tended to fail within months, or a few years at most, because of continuing decay. Early fillings were metal - lead, tin or gold. Each of these metals could be pressed or hammered into the cavity. Pure gold was the most difficult of these metals to handle, but tended to last longer if it was very carefully placed and thoroughly condensed (Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, 1975).

Small bundles of very thin sheets of pure gold, called gold foil, were added one-by-one with tiny instruments and welded together using small hammers, called mallets. A mixture of silver and mercury, called dental amalgam, was also used to fill cavities. The mixture is initially soft, so it can be packed into the cavity with only moderate pressure and because of chemical reactions between the silver and mercury new compounds are formed and it becomes hard (Prinz, 1975)... The concept that caries was gangrene continued well into the 20 th Century, and many patterns of care which flow from that concept continue up to the present time. The fastidious and systematic refinement of cavity design and filling technologies in the early 1900 's, mainly through the work of dentists in North America, changed the nature of caries treatment (Prinz, 1975). Through this work the outcome of the restorative approach was improved until by mid-century it became preferable to extraction.

Carefully placed restorations (which by mid-century included fillings, only and crowns) tended to leak less. It became commonplace for restorations to last several years before they failed through continuing decay (Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, 1975). Complete removal of carious enamel and dentin was thought to be an essential part of successful filling design. Restorative materials did not adhere to teeth. In order for them to stay in place decayed areas had to be modified in shape, with hand or rotary cutting instruments, to make retentive cavity forms. Cavity shapes were also modified to increase the strength of the tooth and restoration.

Minimal sizes of cavities were also mandated, so that the junction between the filling and tooth was areas of the tooth where caries did not usually begin, in the hope that this would result in restorations which would last longer before recurrent decay occurred. This was called 'extension for prevention'. The act of making a restoration therefore usually involved the removal of substantial amount of tooth structure, often several times more than was actually decayed (Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, 1975). Preparing large cavities in hard tooth structure with hand cutting instruments (chisels, hatchets and hoes) was very slow and difficult, but it became easier as rotary cutting instruments (rotary burs) were developed and refined. By the 1970 's high-speed, air turbine-driven rotary cutting instruments became widely available. It became relatively easy to prepare large cavities using tungsten carbide burs and industrial diamond-impregnated rotary instruments.

With regard to prehistoric populations there is little evidence for dentistry other than the probability that troublesome teeth would have been extracted. Evidence would suggest that to stay the progress of a dental caries would require knowledge of the process involved. This is not to say that ancient peoples had no knowledge of this, but the simplest remedy would have been to remove it, and for someone with the means a prosthetic might have been used. This pathology would not have carried the same social stigma that for example, Leprosy would have.

Also the fact that the injury was concealed for the most part would have shielded the individual. The fact that any individual could have been affected from any socio-economic background would have lessened the impact. Although one could say that a person of greater means would have a greater exposure to the caries forming foods, where they probably would have had a softer diet. Throughout history there has been evidence for the use of prosthetics, which suggests an extraction of troubled teeth and an attempt to conceal their loss. There is also the problem of eating. An individual who was affected with caries on their molars, to the point of causing great pain while chewing, would possibly have extracted the troublesome teeth and received dentures to facilitate the chewing process.

Caries serve as an important marker for the development of noting humankind's changes, not only through time but through physiological and cultural changes. But the most important aspect of caries is its presence within all populations, and the changes that these populations encompassed into such things as their diet are reflected within the pathological record. However not every pit on dentition is caused by caries which can result in some misinterpretation with regards to the prevalence in populations, as caries can be visually observed without the aid of magnification instruments. Some defects may depend on genetics, for example the buccal pits on molars, where other examples could be influenced by burial matrix. To understand the change that caries represent is important there is a significant implication for the occurrence of caries and human evolution. These changes serve as a marker with regards to not only a specific time period but to overall changes within peoples and how these changes are reflected in paleo pathology.

Bibliography: References Bremner, Maurice David Kaufman, The story of dentistry: from the dawn of civilization to the present with special emphasis on the American scene: Ann Arbor, MI: Xerox University Microfilms, 1975. Brothwell. D. Animal diseases in archaeology/ J. Baker D. Brothwell London; Toronto: Academic Press, 1980 Frayer, David W.

The evolution of the dentition in upper paleolithic and mesolithic Europe. Lawrence: University of Kansas, 1989. Hills, S. Dental Anthropology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Larsen, C.

Bio archaeology Interpreting Behavior from the Human Skeleton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Larson, Shavit, Griffen. Dental Caries, Evidence for Dietary Change: Advances in Dental Anthropology Editors Kelley, Spencer: Wiley-Liss Per, New York 1990. Prinz, Hermann, Dental chronology: a record of the more important historic events in the evolution of Dentistry: Ann Arbor, MI: Xerox University Microfilms, 1975 Mays. Glen P.

Managed care and public health / [edited by] Paul K. Halverson, Arnold D. Kaluzny, Curtis P. McLaughlin Managed care and public health Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publication, 1998 Alt. , Rating, F. , and Teacher-Nicola, M. eds Dental Anthropology Fundamentals Limits and Prospects. New York: Springer Wien, 1998.

Rose, J. et al "Diet and Dentition: Developmental Disturbances" in The Analysis of Prehistoric Diets. New York: Academic Press, 1985. School, Isaac.

Atlas of the mouth in health and disease. 2 nd ed Chicago: American Dental Association, 1939. Shafer, William G. A textbook of oral pathology 4 th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1983. Shaw, Evelyn S. Oral incubation in Tilapia macrocephaly.

New York: [American Museum of Natural History] 1954


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