What Was the Earliest Form of Dental Braces in History?

the history of braces teaches us a lot about orthodontics and what we can do.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the history of braces. You know them well. Metal-made, shiny brackets bonded to your teeth. Wires that go around. Dreaded by many, loved by even more people. Braces are if not anything else, highly recognizable and something we give for granted in orthodontics.

Where did they come from? Did they always look the way they do now?

As with any other piece of technology in our society, teeth braces have undergone tremendous changes since their original invention. Let’s take a look at the precursors of modern-day braces and how they’ve made their way into our daily lives.

The History of Braces in Ancient Egypt

We’re talking about really ancient Egypt here. Consider that the Egyptian civilization, the ancient one we’re referring to here, lasted almost 3,000 years until 300 B.C. This civilization valued symmetry a lot, and this led them to make a form of braces out of cords made of animal skin that would wrap around teeth in an attempt to correct abnormally spaced teeth.

Orthodontics in the Roman Empire

We can credit the Romans with many advancements in engineering and the sheer will to reshape the land. Similarly, a Roman erudite called Aulus Cornelius sought to look inward and methodically document the first attempts at transforming one’s body.

Aulus Cornelius used his finger to apply constant and gentle pressure over a tooth he wanted to move. His findings, though unavailable, are not the only point of interest in this story. Even as far back as the Roman Empire, we were already thinking of what could move a tooth!

Nowadays, we know for a fact that some bad habits, such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking, apply enough force over your teeth for enough time that they can pull teeth out of the right alignment.

A Scientific Rennaisance

The renewed interest in scientific advancements of Western civilization saw a French dentist called Pierre Fauchard write a book named The Surgeon Dentist, where we would go in length describing his “modern” procedures to straighten teeth.

His work led to a prototype mouthguard called bandeau, a horseshoe-shaped piece of gold that could correct separated teeth.

Then, Pierre Bourdet, a colleague of Fauchard’s, sought to improve the designs and work, and his research led to finding around the extraction of third molars that could improve the bandeau’s application. His work? Compiled in a book titled “The Dentist’s Art.”

Orthodontics in the New World

In 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre arrived in America having already created the first device that we could now confidently call orthodontic braces.

The arrival of such a fascinating device saw continuous improvements and posed the inspiration for many other appliances and attachments that could improve on the principles of orthodontics.

Modern-Day Orthodontic Braces

Even though braces had been everywhere and nowhere at once since 1819, the term finally caught on in the early 20th century when the appliance started to transition from a loose compilation of gold bands and wires wrapped around teeth to a fixed appliance.

In the decade of the seventies, orthodontic specialists decided to incorporate stainless steel metal and special bonding agents to reshape braces and innovate on hundreds of years of traumatic experiences endured by countless patients. Subtle changes, intuitive innovations, and sheer inspiration resulted in modern-day braces, lingual variations, and various off-shoots we can still find today.

What Are the Braces Available Today?

The history of braces is filled with innovation. As such, we have had the opportunity to exploit crucial advancements in materials science and design innovations to create variations that help address a variety of orthodontic problems and fit countless personal considerations of our patients.

Let’s check out some of the available orthodontic appliances.

Traditional Metal Braces

These are still the most durable, resilient, and trustworthy orthodontic appliances on the market. The stainless steel brackets remain fixed to your teeth. An equally durable wire connects each bracket and gradually moves teeth until they reach an ideal alignment. Finally, elastics used in orthodontics help apply additional force and secure the wire to each bracket.

Clear Ceramic Braces

Leveraging the synthesizing of ceramic composites for the space exploration missions of NASA, orthodontists created brackets that could blend with their patients’ natural tooth color and provide a more discreet treatment option for teenagers and adults who were worried about how they’d look during their treatment.

Self-Ligating Braces

Unlike conventional metal braces, these brackets have changes in design that allow them to dispense fully with additional rubber bands to secure an archwire to each bracket. These can be much more comfortable for the user and present fewer complications when it comes to maintaining good oral hygiene.

Lingual Braces

What characterizes these appliances the most is their placement. Where other braces go on the labial surface of your teeth, meaning the part that brushes against your lips and the one everyone can see when you smile, lingual braces go on the lingual surface of your teeth. This means they’re completely concealed from any onlookers when you smile.

Invisalign Clear Aligners

A truly different design that no longer requires bonded pieces stuck to your teeth. Instead, clear aligners are BPA-free plastic trays that you can easily put on and pop off your teeth. The mechanics of clear aligner trays are a bit different than those of braces but rely on the same principle first theorized all those centuries ago: if you apply enough force over your teeth over a long enough period, you’ll move your teeth. We’re just much more elegant about it nowadays.

Learn More About the History of Braces with Newpark Orthodontics

Get in touch with our office and become part of the history of braces as you get your treatment started. We’ll gladly discuss any questions you have related to your treatment and hope to see you soon after you set an appointment in Roswell, GA.