If you have ever had braces, you probably wondered whose brilliant idea it was to wire teeth together. Though modern orthodontics usually involves slight discomfort at most, it hasn’t always been that way. Let’s take a look at the fascinating history of braces!
Mummies with Braces?
Would it surprise you to learn that the first braces in history date back to at least ancient Egypt? Mummified remains contain evidence that ancient Egyptians attempted to use something like braces. Though crude, the metal wires and attachments joined teeth together on more than one excavated mummy.
Between the mummies and references to teeth straightening by ancient Roman philosophers, we can trace braces back to at least 500 B.C. However, the history of braces for teeth could go beyond the ancient civilizations.
The Evolution of Orthodontics
The history of dental braces may be long, but it didn’t see much progression until the late 18th century. Starting in 1728, the French made significant strides in orthodontics. First, Pierre Fauchard published the book The Surgeon Dentist, which included chapters on teeth straightening and ideas for devices.
By the mid-1700s, other dentists explored options for straightening teeth and correcting deformities. Ettienne Bourdet built upon Fauchard’s work with his book The Dentist’s Art.
Fast forward to the early 1800s, and modern orthodontics emerged as a viable practice with the introduction of the first wire crib and gum elastics. Joachim Lafoulon introduced the term orthodontia in 1841, and the first articles and books on the field followed shortly thereafter.
Paving the Way for Modern Braces
The start of the twentieth century marked a significant turning point for orthodontics. Edward H. Angle, commonly considered the “father of modern orthodontics,” developed classifications of malocclusion, founded the first school of orthodontics, and started the Society of Orthodontists (which evolved into the American Society of Orthodontists).
The strains of two World Wars had a significant impact on orthodontics. Though people wore braces in the 1940s, it usually involved melting down and piecing together whatever people could find. Even braces in the 1950s didn’t show much change, though the practice became more common and the orthodontists became increasingly skilled in wrapping teeth with metal.
It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the history of dental braces took another massive leap. The post-war technological advancements and global shift opened doors to new opportunities for dentists and orthodontists around the world.
Technological Advancements: Braces in the 1970s
Prior to the 1970s, orthodontists wrapped metal around the teeth because they lacked dental adhesives. Though dental adhesives existed as early as 1949, it wasn’t sufficient to maintain an attachment until manufacturers introduced new materials, including special resins.
These adhesives required multiple steps and still didn’t last long enough to complete treatments. That resulted in the need for reapplications throughout a course of treatment.
However, the advancements in adhesives during the 1970s and 1980s led to significant breakthroughs in the 1990s that eventually yielded effective, one-bottle systems. The eighth generation of dental adhesives hit the scene in 2010 with immense success and versatility.
The history of braces is surprisingly long and complicated, but it led to some efficient treatments that help millions of people every year. Modern braces are smaller, lighter, extremely efficient, and affordable. Today, people can benefit from alternate treatments, including orthodontic appliances and clear aligners, like Invisalign®.
In today’s world, we understand the importance of straight teeth and a well-aligned jaw more than our ancestors. Our technological advancements allow us to achieve better, safer results than previous generations, and we can do it without significant discomfort in most cases.
If you’re interested in straightening your smile with braces or Invisalign, the team and Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics can help. Book an appointment for a free consult!