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Home / Blog / History of Braces
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History of Braces

  1. Ancient Times
  2. French Orthodontics
  3. American Orthodontics
  4. The 1970s and beyond

 

While we believe that many (if not all) dental problems can be solved by regular brushing, there are other wonders of orthodontics that can salvage your pearly whites.


Braces can make us feel pretty nostalgic. Many have endured these contraptions in their youth. Almost everyone has a braces-related horror story. However, despite all the hassle and pain, many have benefited from this invention.


Though braces became an actual “trend” only in the 90s and 2000s, historians have actually proven that a version of braces has been around in ancient Egypt!


Join us in exploring the different versions of braces as humanity has seen and experienced them.

 

woman with braces smiling

 

Ancient Times


EGYPT - Mummies have shown that thousands of years ago, humans have already hoped to correct crooked teeth. The braces found then were made of metal brackets formed from animal skin. Surprisingly enough, these primitive brackets were arranged pretty much the same way any modern dentist would. These braces show just how innovative our species can be. 


GREECE - Even great philosophers like Aristotle and Hippocrates have theorized ideas for fixing teeth. However, it wasn’t until Aulus Cornelius Celsus documented his efforts to straighten teeth that we learned one crucial tip: Pushing teeth with your fingers as they were emerging will push them into the correct position.


French Orthodontics


After a long gap in orthodontic discoveries due to the Dark Ages, French dentist Pierre Fauchard formulated more ways to straighten teeth. He invented the “bandeau,” a horseshoe-shaped metal strip that expands the dental arch and corrects crooked teeth. This first modern version of braces was expensive and uncomfortable, yet it paved the way for orthodontics.


Pierre Bourdet improved upon Fauchard’s invention. We also have him to thank for one of the present-day orthodontics’ most brilliant ideas. He was the dentist who discovered that the wisdom teeth were responsible for overcrowding and crookedness and must be removed.


American Orthodontics


By the 19th century, dentistry has reached the shores of the United States. American dentists have improved French designs and learned to prioritize the patient’s experience with the braces. 


Edward Maynard introduced elastics to fix jaw alignment. S.C. Barnum created the dental dam that allows braces to be fitted without damaging the gums. Henry A. Baker used wire and elastic bands to keep overcrowded teeth apart instead of pulling them out.


Baker also improved upon many of the previous techniques invented by his colleagues.

 

dentist checking on a man's teeth

 

The 1970s and beyond


Stainless steel was the ultimate game-changer for braces. Before the 1970’s, braces had to be made from gold and silver. Now, braces became more accessible to the masses. 


 It was in the ‘70s that getting braces became less damaging and less painful. The effectiveness of braces improved and the time required to wear them shortened.


Since then, braces as we know them have been created. Advances in dental imaging have greatly modernized the production and installation of braces. Orthodontic technology has created many breakthroughs and techniques.


In 1997, one of the biggest improvements in braces was invented: the Invisalign. 3D imaging software mapped out the mouth to create custom aligners. This idea came from two Stanford graduates: Zia Chisthi and Kelsey Wirth. By 2000, Invisalign was officially introduced to the public. This truly modern innovation became the standard for many who seek to correct their pearly whites.



Thanks to many brilliant minds, we can fix our dental issues and flash our dazzling smiles for selfies. It has taken centuries to achieve perfection in creating braces. However, who’s to say that another innovation isn’t waiting to be discovered right around the corner?

 

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