The History of Braces

history of braces

For years teens and pre-teens feared them, and then there were the late bloomers who ended up with them in early adulthood. Braces, once horrifying, are now quite stylish. They come in various styles and colors. You can even get them to match your eye color if you choose.

Where did this metal mouth jewelry come from, and what is its history?

Well, they do appear to be a lot like mouth jewelry today, but braces are serious business. Wearing braces has saved the teeth of many people, helping to straighten the teeth out, therefore creating a much healthier set of teeth. Once considered cosmetic, braces have now long been recognized as an important part of one’s dental health.

Orthodontic braces were first invented in the 1800’s, but it appears that our human fixation with straight teeth dates even further back to Egyptian times. During those times, each culture had its own way of straightening teeth. There are mummified remains discovered in and around Egypt wearing contraptions in their mouths that archaeologists now believe were methods of straightening teeth.

The discovery of these mummies showed a cord made from animal intestines was intricately wrapped around the teeth in the style of modern braces. The Etruscans, in and around Italy, practiced their own form of orthodontistry between 770 BC and 27Q BC. The Etruscans were the predecessors to what we now know as the ancient Romans.

A part of the Etruscans’ burial practices was to place a device that looks a lot like today’s version of a mouth guard into the deceased’s mouth. Apparently this was done at burial to preserve the teeth, keep them from gapping, and collapsing inwardly. These cultures believed in preserving bodies, their beauty and all, for the afterlife.

Ancient Roman, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, has been documented as attempting to use a procedure called finger pressure, to straighten teeth. His studies showed that teeth began to naturally move and realign themselves due to this applied pressure. Later, the Roman’s modernized their devices by creating a process using a small gold wire, also known as ligature wire. This wire was bound tightly to the teeth in an effort to close off gaps.

The very first set of modern braces was set in a patient’s mouth in the early 1900’s and was quite barbaric compared to the application process known today. Dentists would individually wrap bands around each tooth, and then the bands would be connected by a wire. The wire was then periodically adjusted and tightened to straighten the teeth.

In the 1970’s the application method was modernized and greatly improved. Dentists began using a mold placed on the surface of the teeth where the braces would be placed. This replaced the old method of wrapping individual teeth.

Braces continue to be improved and modernized even today, making them more comfortable to wear and more effective in a shorter period of time. Many teens today look forward to the process, knowing that it is not as painful as before, and will give them that incredible beautiful and healthy smile they deserve.

At Modern Family Dental Care, we offer a great alternative to traditional metal braces. Invisalign® aligners can straighten teeth and give you the smile of your dreams without the wires! To learn more about this service, or the additional dental services we offer, please contact one of our Charlotte or Concord dental offices today!

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Written by Dr. Taj

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