Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  Looking Back: Flag Day


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Dental school founders left impressive legacies

by Walter F. Lamacki, DDS

The Columbian Dental School was established in Chicago in 1892 as a proprietary enterprise. 

Its first location was at State and Quincy streets, across from the Great Northern Hotel. A score of proposed dental schools held charters from the State of Illinois in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but only a few would actually open. The school enrolled 86 students and graduated 26 dentists at its first convocation.

In 1898, the school reorganized as the Illinois School of Dentistry, and a year later was moved to Clark and Van Buren streets.

By 1900, the College of Physicians and Surgeons (a medical school) owned the bulk of the stock in the dental school and expected its income would subsidize the medical school. In 1901, the college negotiated an affiliation with the University of Illinois, apparently without financial support, and moved the medical college from Harrison and Honore streets to make room for the dental school. During renovation, the roof caught fire, destroying the top floor. The new glass and steel roof was reportedly a decided improvement and gave the clinic – with new state-of-the-art equipment – outstanding lighting.

The stockholders, not realizing a profit in nearly a decade of operation, sold the dental equipment to the Chicago College of Dental Surgery and closed the new school in 1909. The locks were hardly snapped shut when Drs. J. Walter Dittmar and Fredrick Moorehead swung into action. They and other prominent dental educators convinced the president of the University of Illinois, Edmund James, and Gov. Charles Dineen that the university needed to have a dental school – and more importantly, to fund it. 

The school reopened as the U of I College of Dentistry Oct. 1, 1913, with Dr. Moorehead as dean. The distinguished faculty was comprised of Drs. Dittmar, Fredrick Noyes, Edgar Coolidge and Donald Gallie, an ADA president from 1914-15.

Throughout the distinguished history of the College of Dentistry, many of the Illini “chiefs” made contributions to the profession and to the nation. Two notables were Bernard Cigrand and Dr. Dittmar.

Dr. Cigrand, the father of Flag Day, became acting dean in 1903. Dr. Cigrand made his first his public appeal for Flag Birth Day in 1886 through the pages of the Chicago Argus. He was the organizer of the American Flag Day Association; the group drew 100,000 people to a rally in a Chicago park. His dogged efforts led to President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. 

Dr. Cigrand was not a one note Johnny. He was president of the American College of Dentistry, president of the Chicago Public Library and served with distinction as a naval lieutenant in World War I. 

Dr. Dittmar was the first superintendent of the infirmary and would educate future dentists for the next 40 years at the school. Dr. Dittmar was also active in organized dentistry, serving as president of the Chicago Dental Society (1911-12) and Illinois State Dental Society (1920). He was elected 8th District (Illinois) trustee of the American Dental Association in 1926, and won a hotly contested election for ADA president in 1932. As president, he promoted a membership plan that for the first time would reduce dues for new dentists. In 1999, Dr. Dittmar’s grandson, Peter Roberson, was elected ISDS president.

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of the CDS Review.


Permanent link  Survey: Affordability a key issue in patients lacking dental insurance


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In a newly released annual survey* on oral care access and affordability, 62 percent of the nationwide respondents were found to have dental insurance. 

Here are some key findings:

  • Respondents with dental insurance tend to be younger, married with children, have a Bachelor’s degree and make more than $50,000.
  • 75 percent of respondents with dental insurance make between $50,000 -$99,000 and 85 percent of those with incomes greater than $100,000. 
  • Only 39 percent of those making less than $25,000 have dental insurance. 

According to the respondents without dental insurance: 

  • 58 percent said it was not affordable
  • 21 percent said it was not offered through their employer
  • 15 percent said it was not necessary
  • Only 23 percent of respondents would seek out other low or no cost alternatives to dental insurance.

“If you are not receiving dental insurance as part of your employer’s benefits package, it is very likely you don’t have coverage,” says Bill Chase, vice president of marketing for :DentalPlans. “The survey also revealed to us that only about 50 percent of respondents are somewhat or very familiar with dental savings plans. It also concerns us that 15 percent of the respondents did not feel dental insurance was worth it. For us, that means we need to do a better job of educating people about the importance of oral care to your overall health and the affordability and ease of access dental savings plans offer.”

*A national study was conducted for :DentalPlans between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7, 2015 by Infosurv Research, an independent research agency. A total of 1,200 respondents were surveyed, yielding data with a margin of error of +/- 2.83%.


Permanent link  Natural plant chemicals could help fight tooth decay, study shows


Oral care products containing a natural chemical that stops bacteria could help prevent decay, according to a study published in the journal Chemical Communications.

The compound – known as trans-chalcone – is related to chemicals found in the licorice root. The natural plant product acts against harmful mouth bacteria and could improve oral health by helping to prevent the build-up of plaque, researchers at the University of Edinburgh say. The study shows that the compound blocks the action of a key enzyme that allows bacteria to thrive in oral cavities. 

The bacteria – Streptococcus mutans – metabolise sugars from food and drink, which produces a mild acid and leads to the formation of plaque. Plaque is formed when bacteria attach to teeth and construct biofilm –  a protective biological layer. Without good dental hygiene, the combination of plaque and mouth acid can lead to tooth decay. 

Researchers found that blocking the activity of the enzyme prevents bacteria from forming biofilm. Preventing the assembly of these protective layers would help stop bacteria forming plaque, according to the study.

The study is the first to show how trans-chalcone prevents bacteria forming biofilms. The team worked out the 3D structure of the enzyme – called Sortase A – which allows the bacteria to make biofilms. Researchers were then able to identify how trans-chalcone prevents the enzyme from functioning. 

The study was supported by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and the University of Edinburgh.


Permanent link  Midwinter Meeting named one of Top 150 trade shows for 2014


Trade Show News Network (TSNN) has released its list of the 2014 Top 250 Trade Shows in the United States. Culled from show management and data supplied to TSNN, the list represents the top trade shows held last year in the U.S. ranked by net square footage.

2014 Trade Show News Network Top 250The Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting ranks 133rd, with 168,760 square feet, 637 exhibitors, and more than 21,000 attendees.

The full, searchable list, sponsored this year exclusively by Expocad, can be found here

Other dental meetings on the list include the Greater New York Dental Meeting (#146) and the Yankee Dental Congress (#191).

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ triennial CONEXPO-CON/AGG snagged the top spot with a 2,356,711 net square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Once again, the city with the most shows on the 2014 TSNN Top 250 Trade Show list was Las Vegas, with 60. Orlando scored the second most number of shows on the list, with 26, followed close behind with Chicago hosting 24.

The rest of the top 10 cities included New York City coming in fourth, with 20 shows; Atlanta was fifth, 14 shows; New Orleans was sixth, 11 shows; San Francisco and Boston came in seventh, 8 shows; Denver and Anaheim were eighth, 6 shows; Indianapolis was ninth, 5 shows; and San Diego rounded out the top 10 with 4 shows.

The busiest month last year for shows was March and February was second busiest with 28 shows. The slowest months were December and July, with 9 shows each.


Permanent link  Register for the May 20 CDS Webinar on HIPAA


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The Top 10 Things you Need to Know About HIPAA 

Govoni, MaryPresented by Mary Govoni

Join us at noon Wednesday, May 20, on your lunch break for this hour-long presentation and Q&A session.

If you are unable to participate on the day of the event, the webinar will be made available on demand the following day. However, the webinar will only be available to those who registered in advance and can only be viewed twice.

CDS is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider


ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to ADA CERP at

CDS designates this activity for 1 continuing education credit.