Evidence suggests that those braces made of catgut and metal bands were likely only used as part of a burial ritual, to make sure the dead person’s teeth looked nice for the afterlife. Similar burial rituals were performed in Ancient Greece and by the Etruscans.
The first time braces were used to straighten the teeth of the living was in Ancient Rome, around 400 BC. 400 years later, Aulus Cornelius Celcus theorized that teeth could be guided into place by applying hand pressure in the right direction as they grow in, but modern orthodontic research doesn’t support this.
Not much changed in orthodontics until the 18th century, when Pierre Fauchard created the first known modern braces. His invention, the bandeau, was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal with holes throughout it, held in place by silk threads. He also tried tying teeth together in an effort to get them to stay put while they healed. Christophe-François Delabarre tried separating crowded teeth by putting wooden wedges between each tooth. Yikes!
In 1822, J.S. Gunnell invented occipital anchorage (the first form of headgear), but the man considered to be the father of modern orthodontics was Edward Hartley Angle. Angle formally identified different types of malocclusions (bad bites) and developed appliances to correct them beginning in 1880.
Through all these developments, early orthodontists were still limited by technology. They didn’t have bonding agents that could allow front-mounted brackets like in today’s braces, so moving teeth required wrapping metal completely around each tooth. That all changed when dental adhesive hit the scene, and the development of stainless steel in the ’70s also made braces more affordable because they no longer had to be made out of silver or gold.
There’s no better time in history to get orthodontic treatment than now, thanks to all the incredible advancements over the centuries and particularly the last few decades. And while today’s orthodontic treatment is always tailored to individual patients’ needs and everything is far more streamlined and low-profile than it was in the past, there are a few basic options most people can choose from.
If you’re in need of orthodontic treatment, you can be sure you’ll only receive the most efficient, comfortable, and up-to-date appliance at our practice. So don’t be shy; come see us today for a consultation!