What Was the Earliest Form of Dental Braces in History?

The history of braces is as interesting at it is critical to today's orthodontic treatment options.

Whether it is to fix an orthodontic issue or for cosmetic reasons, everyone in their life has considered, if not used, braces at some point in their life. The classic orthodontic appliance has great results for a variety of orthodontic problems and is very reliable, which makes it a go-to for many orthodontists. Of course, now there are many alternative treatments that can mostly achieve the same goal, but it wasn’t always like that. Take a look at what braces looked like hundreds of years ago and how they got to the braces we know now.

History of Braces

Nowadays, even if braces can be painful and tiresome to take care of, they are smaller, more durable, and much more effective than ever. Braces and orthodontic treatment have been evolving and improving for literally thousands of years. Here are a few of the most important milestones in braces’ history.

First Orthodontic Treatments

The first attempts at orthodontic treatment and orthodontic appliances go back all the way to around 400 B.C. Back then, Aristotle and Hippocrates were already trying to come up with solutions to better the oral health and aesthetics of people. The first few actual remains that archeologists found, however, belong to mummies who had catgut around their teeth. Catgut refers to a wire that uses animals’ intestines for its construction.

Skipping a few years ahead, we find that Romans used gold wires around their teeth with the apparent intention of straightening their teeth. Archeologists named the invention ligature wire. Nowadays, ligatures are elastic rubber bands that hold the archwire and braces together to create pressure and move teeth.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus documented his experiments to straighten teeth with the use of finger pressure. Even though he documented success, the procedure was never backed up.

17th, 18th & 19th Century

Thanks to a couple of wars and plagues, there weren’t many registered advancements in orthodontics up until 1669 when Pierre Fauchard published his book named “The Surgeon Dentist,” which consisted of various different methods of correcting teeth. Fauchard used a sort of orthodontic appliance named “Bandeau” to expand a patient’s palate. Around 1757, Louis Bourdet later improved the “Bandeau” and was the first dentist to recommend wisdom tooth extraction to help alleviate crowding.

Jumping to the year 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre created the wire crib in an attempt to hold two teeth in place. The device would mark the start of modern braces. A few years later, in 1843, Dr. Edward Maynard added elastics to the wire crib. After Norman William Kingsley published his book on orthodontics in 1880, John Nutting Farrar recommended using force in intervals to move teeth.

20th Century and Foward

After Edward Angle classified malocclusion into the class system that dentists still use today, he made many simplifications to many orthodontic appliances. More than 50 years later, NASA made an unexpected contribution in the form of creating nitinol in 1959. It wasn’t until 1979, however, that Dr. George Andreasen used nitinol as a material for braces for its great elasticity. This change allowed Andreasen to reduce the dental appointments needed, the cost of the procedure, and the discomfort among patients.

The nitinol contribution, in conjunction with the introduction of stainless steel and dental adhesive in the mid-1970s, is what gave form to the braces that we are all familiar with today.

Other Appliances

Of course, we’ve developed and improved more orthodontic appliances and treatments than just regular metal braces. In the mid-1980s, ceramic braces came into the market with the biggest success any orthodontic appliance has ever had. Ceramic braces are incredibly similar to regular braces, with the exception of the materials they employ in manufacturing. Although at first glance, just less visible braces for more money doesn’t seem like a great deal, the more natural look it gives means fewer self-esteem and self-conscious issues, which, in turn, attracts more people to the procedure.

Braces For You

Similarly, Invisalign clear aligners offer huge advantages over ceramic or traditional braces, although not everyone can wear them. Thanks to Invisalign aligners being removable, patients don’t need to follow a strict diet for months or years of treatment. Additionally, Invisalign is virtually invisible, allowing every patient who wears it to have a natural-looking smile while fixing any dental issue present. Teenagers and adults don’t have to worry about looks from their peers and can have more time to themselves, thanks to less time-consuming visits to the dentist.

Contact Our Salem Orthodontist For Free Consultation

If you wish to know if you or someone in your family needs braces or an alternative, contact us at McDonald Orthodontics and schedule your appointment today.