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Taking a Look Back at the History of Orthodontics

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Modern braces as we know them today were not developed until the turn of the 20th century when orthodontists used metals, rubber, and even wood to create brackets and wires that wrapped around each tooth to achieve straighter smiles. Still, the idea of improving oral health and appearances with orthodontic devices is nothing new to human history. Even in ancient Greek and Roman societies, there is evidence of orthodontic care with a wide array of devices that would move the teeth. Below you’ll get a glimpse into orthodontic history to see just how far we’ve come in the development of straighter smiles.


Ancient orthodontic care

While it is unclear just how effective the primitive orthodontics of ancient cultures were, there is evidence that the Romans may have been the first inventors of the ligature wire. An excavated Roman tomb in Egypt revealed several sets of teeth bound by gold wires. It was not until centuries after these ancient societies fell, however, that more modern breakthroughs were made in orthodontics.


Early breakthroughs in braces

Texts from the mid-1700s indicate that dentistry had become a distinct profession at this time, and one of the services that a local dentist may have provided was teeth straightening. The Bandeau was a revolutionary device that would be used to expand the arch of the mouth to relieve crowding. Treatment with the Bandeau was likely combined with extraction of the premolars to make room for the other teeth to move.


Birth of modern orthodontics

By the 1900s there were more modern systems were in use to correct crooked teeth and malocclusions, which had been classified by Edward H. Angle, who may be considered one of the fathers of modern orthodontics. In 1929, the American Board of Orthodontics was created, and treatment continued to advance with the discovery and new availability of materials like stainless steel. It was in the 1970s that braces finally began to use the process of direct bonding rather than wrapping entirely around the teeth.

To see just how far orthodontic technologies have come, you might explore your options for care with a local orthodontist in your area. Braces are now optimized for much greater comfort and aesthetics than their predecessors, which may make you glad to be a dental patient of the 21st century.

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