History of Braces
You might be tempted to think that braces are a completely modern invention. How could ancient peoples possibly manage it without a big comfy dentist chair, bright electric lights, and sterile medical practices? Surprising though it may be, even our ancestors dreamed of straight, healthy teeth. The history of braces has humble beginnings, but we owe our comfortable, effective modern orthodontia to those first brave attempts at a perfect smile.
The First OrthodontistsThe American Association of Orthodontists accepts that the history of braces goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Mummified remains discovered by archaeologists have metal bands wrapped around their teeth. These seem to be the first attempt at braces. Later, around 400-500 BCE, the great thinker, Aristotle and the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, also considered ways to straighten teeth and alleviate dental issues.
These first, crude attempts at a means of straightening teeth remained the height of dental technology until about the 18th century. In 1728, French dentist Pierre Fauchard published his book, The Surgeon Dentist. This book contained a chapter about straightening teeth and included information on an invention of Fauchard’s used to expand the dental arch.
The Beginning of Modern BracesAfter Fauchard’s pioneering first steps, other European and American dentists contributed small developments and furthered the field of orthodontia through the 19th century. It was the 20th century. However, that saw the next great advancements in orthodontics. Science came to the forefront of dental practices and American, Edward H. Angle devised the first simplified classification method of malocclusions (or misaligned bites).
Angle’s classification system was a hallmark in the history of braces and is still used to this day. Angle also made significant contributions to the development and simplification of several dental appliances. Perhaps most importantly, Angle founded the first college of orthodontics and the first journal of orthodontics. There are a contemporary journal and website that still uses Angle’s name.
The braces of a century ago primarily used gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals for different parts of the braces. The bands wrapped completely around each tooth. Stainless steel became available in the late 1930s but wasn’t widely used until about twenty years later. No matter the material, wires still had to be wrapped completely around each tooth.
Orthodontia TodayThe 1970s saw the next big development in braces with the introduction of direct bonding techniques. Tooth brackets were invented, and patients no longer needed to have wire wrapped around each tooth. It would take another ten years however before bonding techniques could catch up and make modern braces a truly viable option.
Today, we see new advances in braces with self-litigating brackets and lingual systems that fix to the back of your teeth. Clear aligners have also become popular for some patients. Still, if a patient has moderate or severe malocclusion, there is no better option that classic metal braces.
If you’re curious about braces, call our Winnipeg, Manitoba office today at 204-809-6026 to schedule your consultation!