The history of orthodontic braces


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Dr. Eric Rouah & Associates of 5000 Yonge Dental offer the best in dental technology, including Invisalign braces, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

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The history of orthodontic braces

  1. 1. The History of Orthodontic Braces
  2. 2. It isn’t too uncommon to see people of all ages sporting a set of orthodontic braces.Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on improper bites, known asmalocclusions. A patient may require braces for a number of different reasons, includingdental displacement or for purely aesthetic reasons. Even though they may seem like arelatively new phenomenon, orthodontic braces have a long history.In the BeginningBraces have been around for a long, long time. The American Association ofOrthodontists has reported that ancient mummified remains have been found byarcheologists, complete with metal bands wrapped around the teeth. It only stands toreason that crooked teeth and improper bites aren’t a development of modern society, andthat the physicians of ancient times may have tried fixing crooked smiles, too. Recordseven exist showing that Hippocrates and Aristotle were concerned with straighteningteeth, way back in 400 to 500 BC.Evidence also exists to suggest the Etruscans, which were the people who came beforethe Romans, buried some of their citizens wearing dental appliances. A researcher evenfound several teeth that were bound in gold wire in a Roman tomb in Egypt. Althoughthese events show that orthodontics was likely being practiced for at least a couplethousand years, it wasn’t really until the 1700’s that it really started to take off.OrthodonticsPerhaps the first move to popularize orthodontics was by French dentist Pierre Fauchard,with his 1728 book ‘The Surgeon Dentist.’ Inside this book, he included a whole chapterbased on how to straighten teeth. Back in those days, Fauchard used a horseshoe-shapedpiece of metal known as a ‘Blandeau’ to do the straightening. Another book called ‘TheDentist’s Art’ written in 1757 by French dentist Ettienne Bourdet also described thetooth-alignment process. Bourdet was the King of France’s dentist, and worked tofurther perfect the Blandeau.The first documented article on orthodontics was written by dentist Norman W. Kingsleyin 1858. In 1880, Kingsley published a book entitled, ‘Treatise on Oral Deformities.’ Adentist named J. N. Farrar also wrote a couple volumes that dealt with correcting crookedteeth, and was the first to try using mild force at specifically timed intervals to moveteeth.In the early 1900s, an American named Edward Angle came up with the firstclassification system for malocclusions that’s still in use today. Angle’s system helpeddentists describe just how crooked teeth were, which way they were pointing and howthey fit together. Angle also helped simplify the orthodontic appliances themselves, aswell as founding the first college of orthodontics and the American Society ofOrthodontia, which later became the American Association of Orthodontists. The very
  3. 3. first orthodontics textbook designed for students was published in the 1889 by J.J.Guilford.First Metal Braces When many people think of braces, they envision the shiny, silver, train track style braces that have been popular for that past several decades. And while this style of braces may seem cumbersome to some people, it used to be a lot worse. Way back in the early 1900s, an orthodontist might use gold, platinum, silver, steel, copper, brass, gum rubber or even wood to get the job done. These materialswere used to form loops and hooks and ligatures designed to make braces. Gold wasoften used for the wires, bands and clasps back in the early days. Gold was easy toshape, which was a benefit, but that same softness required frequent adjustments, not tomention the fact that gold costs a lot of money. But back at the beginning, it was realgold and real silver that was wrapped around each tooth to create metal braces.Metal braces continued to wrap around teeth in this fashion until the middle of the 1970s,when the bonded bracket took its place. The bonded bracket was actually inventedearlier, but the adhesive had yet to be mastered. Once the adhesive was good to go, themetal braces that so many people are familiar with from the 1970s and 1980s started totake off. It was never a secret that many patients didn’t like how they looked, but theyusually did a great job, so it was best to suffer in silence.Eventually, the silver train track look was replaced by prettier colors like red, green orblue. The braces still worked with the bonded bracket and wire set up, but both bracketsand wires were available in different colors to help cut down on the ‘metal mouth’ kindof look.For some patients who didn’t need full-on braces, retainers were often used as a analternative. A retainer consists of a wire attached to a plate that fits up into the roof ofyour mouth when you sleep. Retainers were sometimes worn instead of full braces or asfollow up treatment after the braces had done they’re job. Retainers were often preferredbecause no one really had to know that they were being worn at all.Invisalign Braces
  4. 4. Invisalign braces took the ‘no one needs to know’ concept ofbraces even farther. Invisalign braces straighten the teethlike any metal braces, but it does so in a much more discreetand non-invasive fashion.The Invisalign system uses clear, custom molded alignersthat are removable. The aligners move your teeth little bylittle, and are changed every two weeks or so. Mosttreatments use up to 24 aligners and takes from five to 12months.Patients seem to like Invisalign braces because they can beremoved for teeth cleaning or special professional or socialoccasions. And even if they are left in, many people won’teven notice that you’re wearing anything. One of the bigcomplaints among people who wear braces, is the train tracklook that metal braces creates. Basically, once they’re on,there is no escape until your treatment is finished.With technologies like Invisalign braces, you can get all thebenefits of a standard pair of braces, without any of thestandard annoyances.
  5. 5. Dr. Eric Rouah & Associates of 5000 Yonge Dental offer the best in dental technology,including Invisalign braces, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff