What Was the Earliest Form of Dental Braces and History of Braces?

The history of braces teaches us much about orthodontics

What comes to your mind when you see orthodontic braces? Maybe you wonder, How an orthodontist attaches brackets to a tooth? And, How does the mechanism of wires, bands, and adjustments finally achieve a successful result of straight teeth?

Also, have you ever inquired yourself how and when teeth aligners appeared for the first time? Or how do invisible orthodontic devices achieve similar results to traditional metal braces?

There are many questions, and some answers might require a technical explanation beyond this reading. However, we can tell you that they follow the same principle: applying mild and controlled strain on teeth.

This short article dusts off some historical records about the long orthodontic treatment journey from its beginnings to our days. You will discover the history of orthodontics and more about how orthodontic braces and clear appliances work by exploring some interesting facts.

The History of Braces

The advancements in orthodontics astonish me. From animal skin cords to thermoplastic polyurethanes, multiple discoveries and disciplines participate in developing modern braces and orthodontics.

We will guide you through the most rudimentary forms used by ancient societies to try to straighten teeth to state-of-the-art engineering and biomechanics applied in plastic aligners.

The Egyptian Civilization

At the time, people didn’t have the technological advancements that make our lives comfortable. However, they managed to make formidable artifacts to get things done.

For instance, when we think of the Egyptian Pyramids, we can imagine they reached a high level of development, and surprisingly, this civilization also had an idea of dental aesthetics.

This ancient civilization lasted 30 centuries, long before Christian records 3000 B.C., to its fall when the Romans conquered them with Alexander the Great leading the army.

Early Egyptians dominated architecture and symmetry. They also had a sense of beauty in things, including making an exceptional attempt to get straighter teeth with a cord made of animal skin with which they wrapped teeth, pulling them to correct gap teeth (diastema).

The Etruscans

Several cultures and populations conformed to the Roman Empire. For example, the Etruscans lived in parts of Italy, and the earliest attestation of their existence dates from 900 B.C. Then they were assimilated into the Roman Empire as citizens in 90 B.C.

The Etruscans had burial rituals that extended to the invention of little figurines resembling people on the lid of a sarcophagus. They’re interested in preparing people for the afterlife.

Among the inventions attributable to Etruscans, archeologists found a rudimentary version of an orthodontic bridge and gold mouth guards used in women to conserve the teeth of the dead in line, so they could enter the new life having a beautiful smile.

The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was a complex society formed of different cultures; some were intellectuals, philosophers, and researchers. One of the brilliant minds in ancient Rome was Aulus Cornelius Celsius.

He used his finger to apply moderate and repeated pressure on a tooth he wanted to move to align it.

Later on, Romans created a pioneering form of braces with a gold wire band bound to teeth by a wire-like type of bracket to fix spaced teeth.

Orthodontic Discipline in France

During the 18th century, many scientific developments flourished. Some inventions followed a method to achieve a goal, and some dental appliances had practical uses for the first time.

When we think of what was the earliest form of dental braces? First, we must take into account Pierre Fauchard, a French dentist who invented what he coined the bandeau, which was a horse-shoe-shaped type of palatal expander made of the iron.

Later on, Louis Bourdet found that he could improve the bandeau by extracting some molars in patients to alleviate overcrowded teeth.

Dental Advancements In The United States

Some of the most renowned advancements in dental techniques and appliances occurred in the U.S during the 19th century.

The first School of Dentistry opened its doors In 1840 in Baltimore, MA. With the support of the American dentist Chapin A. Harris, a new era of odontology began when he published his findings in the book The Dental Art, and compiled a Practical Treatise of Dental Surgery.

It is also inevitable that some inventions start with an objective for a specific purpose, and then researchers use them as applications for other areas. This happened when E.G. Tucker found a way to use rubber bands in orthodontics, from an invention of Charles Goodyear, the rubber.

Following this pattern, in the last years of the 19th century, the dentist Eugene S. Talbot used the X-ray discovered by Wilhelm Roetgen in 1895 to identify and diagnose impacted wisdom teeth, recommending its extraction for teeth overcrowding.

Modern Era Orthodontics

We move now to the 20th century and find orthodontic developments and appliances in use today. The most significant development introduced in modern orthodontics was stainless steel braces.

Also, the discipline encountered a significant advancement when Edward Angle identified and classified the types of teeth misalignments, introducing concepts in use today, like the term (malocclusion).

Near 1970, orthodontists started to adopt a revolutionary idea: to bound a bracket to a tooth, cementing it to the front of the teeth instead of affixing molar bands, a wrap-like metal band around them.

Orthodontics Today

We comprised thousands of years in a single narrative about reaching its pinnacle. Orthodontics and Orthodontic care, as we know it today, evolved in so many ways that many disciplines contribute to getting the accelerated, comfortable, and almost unperceivable orthodontic removable aligners at hand.

It would be hard to imagine a world without clear teeth alignment trays. New orthodontic appliances maturate from extensive research and development. However, believe it or not, clear teeth aligners flourished from an orthodontic patient’s idea.

After orthodontic braces treatment, a patient using a plastic retainer skipped using them and noticed his teeth started to move back to the original misaligned position. He rapidly resumed using the retainer, seeing that his teeth aligned again.

The patient, named Zia Chisty, analyzed teeth displacements during orthodontic treatment in patients with a 3D model and recorded the advancements in numbered stages.

Each stage has a plastic tray that captures the teeth’ movement, finding he can slowly move teeth with orthodontic plastic retainers. That is the story behind Invisalign, which later became an industry with several competitors worldwide.

Now that we have revised the history of braces, you might also want to know the science behind orthodontic appliances.

How Do Orthodontic Appliances Work?

This might seem a tricky question, but we can summarize it by saying it is pure science. Orthodontic braces use a pulling mechanism that uses a wire to exert little but constant pressure on teeth.

Imagine teeth have a root connected to the bone through a soft ligament named the periodontal ligament. As teeth move, the connective tissue also moves. However, the tension exerted on the ligaments must be gentle to avoid losing it.

If the periodontal ligament suffers a trauma, the connection between the tooth and the bone might leave the tooth loose. Therefore, it is essential to measure the appropriate force in the system to avoid the destruction of the ligament.

Also, as the periodontal ligament moves, a mild inflammation activates, alerting the brain to send reconstructive cells to the affected area. Cells recompose the space left by the ligament replacing it with bony tissue and repairing the displaced ligament.

So, when people ask: Is it true that braces weaken the teeth? The answer is no. Orthodontists know the exact measure of the force required to move a tooth safely. This measure is less than 100 grams.

What Other Orthodontic Appliances Exist?

There are numerous orthodontic appliances, and every single one serves a specific function, like headgear, which helps patients with severe malocclusions requiring jaw alignment.

However, as you might have noticed, the evolution of orthodontic braces is long, and detailing every single type of device is a giant task. Furthermore, advancements in orthodontic technology help us have appliances that bring solutions to different malocclusions.

The most reliable and effective orthodontic systems include traditional braces, with variants made of stainless steel and ceramic variants that mimic tooth color. There are also Carriere Correctors composed of small metal bars bonded to a patient’s teeth that, with the help of elastic bands, align the jaws, canines, and molars as a single unit.

Patients at Westwalk Orthodontic Group might benefit from Invisible Aligners Therapy, also available for adults of any age. Invisalign Invisible aligners are at the top of orthodontic innovations and technology, with numerous advantages, including enhanced esthetics, less treatment time, improved comfort, and zero diet restrictions. In addition, they allow patients to practice their regular hygiene routines without hassle.

At Westwalk Orthodontic Group, We Design Smiles For a Life

Our Office in Norwalk has been offering the community Orthodontic Braces and Aligner Treatment since 1978. So stop by, or schedule an appointment. Our experienced and certified team will gladly plan and guide you through the process to get a functional and perfect smile for life.