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The Origin of Braces

Posted in Orthodontics

3 minute read

The desire for straight teeth is nothing new. Although cosmetic and plastic surgery is relatively modern, “braces” date back as far as the ancient man.

When did people begin putting “braces” on their teeth?

Years ago, archaeologists discovered ancient mummies with metal bands wrapped around their teeth, indicating primal dentistry. This finding was reinforced when yet another researcher found a number of teeth bound with a gold wire inside of a Roman tomb in Egypt. This discovery insinuates that this was the first documented ligature wire, which is now used in orthodontics to affix the archwire to the bracket. In later years, between 400-500 BC, research suggests that Hippocrates and Aristotle both meditated about ways to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.

However, despite all of the evidence of ancient experimentation, no significant events in orthodontics really occurred until the 1700s. In 1728, Pierre Fauchard wrote a book titled The Surgeon Dentist, and devoted an entire chapter to methods of straightening teeth. Many consider Dr. Fauchard as the “Father of Orthodontia,” and some of his suggestions for dentistry are still familiar today.

What did braces look like years ago?

Years ago, traditional ‘metal’ braces were wrapped entirely around each tooth with bands and wires made of precious metals, such as gold, platinum, and silver. Steel was not commonly used for braces until the 1950s. In the 1970s, direct bonding of brackets to the teeth became popular and by the mid-70s, lingual braces were invented, which used bonded brackets placed on the inside of the teeth, making them ‘invisible.’

Advances in braces technology in recent years

As technology continues to advance the science of orthodontics, procedures now focus on being as comfortable, quick, and as invisible as possible. Dental treatment is nearly undetectable and digital computer imaging is often utilized to make treatment plans for each patient more precise.

One of the biggest breakthroughs for orthodontics in the 20th century was the discovery, developed by NASA, of heat-activated nickel-titanium alloy wires. These wires are able to use a gentler force for a longer duration than stainless steel wires and are still used today.

Invisalign brought the latest breakthrough for the 21st century – straightening teeth without the use of metal bands or wires. Instead, a series of clear plastic aligners that are completely wireless are used to achieve straighter teeth. As technology continues to emerge, future patients will be provided with even more convenience and options for achieving an attractive smile.

A beautiful smile has immeasurable value! If you are seeking to improve the looks of your smile, please contact Dr. Kevin B. Sands, DDS by calling (310) 273-0111 or filling out our contact form. Together, you and Dr. Sands can discuss the top procedures and treatments available to create your desired smile, which will be nothing less than dazzling!