You may think orthodontics is a modern branch of the dental field, but really, did you know the idea of straight and perfect smile has been around for centuries (thousands of years, even!)? The history of orthodontics goes back 50,000 years! While exactly how people throughout the years have tried to straighten their smile varies, the concept has remained the same: a perfect smile is something everyone wants!
History Lesson: Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans
Orthodontists today use braces and Invisalign to straighten teeth, and while Invisalign is a bit too advanced for the Ancient Egyptians, they did try braces! Archaeologists have found a type of wiring system on Egyptian mummies. Want to know what archaeologists think Egyptians used to put pressure on the teeth? Catgut (coincidentally, this is made of dried “guts” and intestines of horses or sheep, not cats!).
A gold wiring band has been known to be used on Etruscan women after their death to keep the positioning of their teeth. This looked similar to a mouthguard, and was found uniquely only in Etruscan women! This signified the need to have straight teeth as a vain or cosmetic procedure. In Ancient Rome, a writer named Aulus Cornelius Celsus, told people to “push” on new teeth regularly to bring them to a proper position. Census spent his whole life researching and finding out new medical procedures.
While orthodontics seem to have hit the pause button after Ancient times, there was a huge push for orthodontic development and research in the 1800s. The Father of Dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, created a dental appliance called a bandeau. This was a U-shaped piece of metal that had holes to fit around teeth to move them! Fauchard wrote a book in 1728 called “The Surgeon Dentist.”
United States and Orthodontics
There was significant increase in orthodontics in the United States – J.S. Gunnels made something called the occipital anchorage (a kind of early, crude headgear) in 1822, Chapin A. Harris wrote the first book on dentistry “The Dental Art” in 1840, and E.G. Tucker (an American Dentist) used rubber in orthodontics in 1846.
The Father of Modern Orthodontics
Edward Hartley Angle is credited with identifying what really classifies misalignment of teeth (malocclusion) and identified orthodontic appliances that would truly straighten teeth in 1880.
Braces As We Know Them Today
Orthodontists used to wrap wire around each tooth to secure the bracket to the tooth, but in the 1970s orthodontists discovered they could use adhesives to place the bracket directly onto the tooth. Also during this time, orthodontists stopped using gold and silver for wiring and instead started using stainless steel! This caused the pricing of braces and orthodontic work to be much lower (go figure, right?).
Lingual braces were also invented during this time because people were interested in discreet treatment. They would have to wait 20+ years for…
In the 1990s a man named Zia Chishti saw that when he didn’t wear his plastic retainer for a few days, his teeth would shift back. Chishti went to Kelsey Wirth and the two of them created a way to use 3D computer technology to make plastic retainers. Chishti and Wirth went on to cofound Align Technology, the company known to make Invisalign. In 2000 their process was available to the public, and the rest?
If you are interested in getting either braces or Invisalign, contact us!