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The History of Orthodontic Braces

It isnt too uncommon to see people of all ages sporting a set of orthodontic braces. Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on improper bites, known as malocclusions. A patient may require braces for a number of different reasons, including dental displacement or for purely aesthetic reasons. Even though they may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, orthodontic braces have a long history.

In the Beginning Braces have been around for a long, long time. The American Association of Orthodontists has reported that ancient mummified remains have been found by archeologists, complete with metal bands wrapped around the teeth. It only stands to reason that crooked teeth and improper bites arent a development of modern society, and that the physicians of ancient times may have tried fixing crooked smiles, too. Records even exist showing that Hippocrates and Aristotle were concerned with straightening teeth, way back in 400 to 500 BC. Evidence also exists to suggest the Etruscans, which were the people who came before the Romans, buried some of their citizens wearing dental appliances. A researcher even found several teeth that were bound in gold wire in a Roman tomb in Egypt. Although these events show that orthodontics was likely being practiced for at least a couple thousand years, it wasnt really until the 1700s that it really started to take off.

Orthodontics Perhaps the first move to popularize orthodontics was by French dentist Pierre Fauchard, with his 1728 book The Surgeon Dentist. Inside this book, he included a whole chapter based on how to straighten teeth. Back in those days, Fauchard used a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal known as a Blandeau to do the straightening. Another book called The Dentists Art written in 1757 by French dentist Ettienne Bourdet also described the tooth-alignment process. Bourdet was the King of Frances dentist, and worked to further perfect the Blandeau. The first documented article on orthodontics was written by dentist Norman W. Kingsley in 1858. In 1880, Kingsley published a book entitled, Treatise on Oral Deformities. A dentist named J. N. Farrar also wrote a couple volumes that dealt with correcting crooked teeth, and was the first to try using mild force at specifically timed intervals to move teeth. In the early 1900s, an American named Edward Angle came up with the first classification system for malocclusions thats still in use today. Angles system helped dentists describe just how crooked teeth were, which way they were pointing and how they fit together. Angle also helped simplify the orthodontic appliances themselves, as well as founding the first college of orthodontics and the American Society of Orthodontia, which later became the American Association of Orthodontists. The very

first orthodontics textbook designed for students was published in the 1889 by J.J. Guilford.

First Metal Braces When many people think of braces, they envision the shiny, silver, train track style braces that have been popular for that past several decades. And while this style of braces may seem cumbersome to some people, it used to be a lot worse. Way back in the early 1900s, an orthodontist might use gold, platinum, silver, steel, copper, brass, gum rubber or even wood to get the job done. These materials were used to form loops and hooks and ligatures designed to make braces. Gold was often used for the wires, bands and clasps back in the early days. Gold was easy to shape, which was a benefit, but that same softness required frequent adjustments, not to mention the fact that gold costs a lot of money. But back at the beginning, it was real gold and real silver that was wrapped around each tooth to create metal braces. Metal braces continued to wrap around teeth in this fashion until the middle of the 1970s, when the bonded bracket took its place. The bonded bracket was actually invented earlier, but the adhesive had yet to be mastered. Once the adhesive was good to go, the metal braces that so many people are familiar with from the 1970s and 1980s started to take off. It was never a secret that many patients didnt like how they looked, but they usually did a great job, so it was best to suffer in silence. Eventually, the silver train track look was replaced by prettier colors like red, green or blue. The braces still worked with the bonded bracket and wire set up, but both brackets and wires were available in different colors to help cut down on the metal mouth kind of look. For some patients who didnt need full-on braces, retainers were often used as a an alternative. A retainer consists of a wire attached to a plate that fits up into the roof of your mouth when you sleep. Retainers were sometimes worn instead of full braces or as follow up treatment after the braces had done theyre job. Retainers were often preferred because no one really had to know that they were being worn at all.

Invisalign Braces

Invisalign braces took the no one needs to know concept of braces even farther. Invisalign braces straighten the teeth like any metal braces, but it does so in a much more discreet and non-invasive fashion. The Invisalign system uses clear, custom molded aligners that are removable. The aligners move your teeth little by little, and are changed every two weeks or so. Most treatments use up to 24 aligners and takes from five to 12 months. Patients seem to like Invisalign braces because they can be removed for teeth cleaning or special professional or social occasions. And even if they are left in, many people wont even notice that youre wearing anything. One of the big complaints among people who wear braces, is the train track look that metal braces creates. Basically, once theyre on, there is no escape until your treatment is finished. With technologies like Invisalign braces, you can get all the benefits of a standard pair of braces, without any of the standard annoyances.

Dr. Eric Rouah & Associates of 5000 Yonge Dental offer the best in dental technology, including Invisalign braces, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff