Orthodontics: A Brief History

Modern-day braces and orthodontic appliances have come a long way in recent years, but do you know how long brace-like appliances have been used? You may be surprised to hear that the first orthodontic treatments date back to the time of ancient Egyptians. Though the first braces came to be over 1,000 years later, orthodontic practices arose around 1000 B.C.

When you consider the fears and anxiety many patients have in acquiring today’s traditional braces, imagine the painful treatments that were first used. Living in the modern age, we should be thankful for the advances in orthodontics. Allow Kraus Orthodontics to fill you in on a brief history of the practice.

First Known Practices

As mentioned, the first known practice of orthodontics reaches back as early as 1000 B.C., when an early form of the dental bridge was introduced. The Etruscans, predecessors of the ancient Romans, partook in burial rituals to properly prepare bodies for the afterlife.

Within these rituals, appliances similar to mouthguards were placed in the mouths of the dead to prevent teeth from collapsing. This was to ensure the bodies looked their best when entering the afterlife. From here, orthodontic practices like the ones we know today began to take form—introduced by the ancient Egyptians.

Egyptian Appliances

Researchers believe that some appliances found in mummified bodies were used to repair gapped teeth. Similar to the wires that run through today’s braces, these mummified remains consisted of strands made from animal intestines that wrapped around the teeth in an effort to pull them into the correct position. This means brace-like appliances first emerged over 2,000 years ago. Clearly, everyone wants a perfect smile.

Early Forms of Modern-Day Braces

Though the term “braces” wasn’t used before the early 1900s, orthodontic treatments much like today’s began nearly a hundred years before. By 1819, wire cribs were invented, which are devices placed on the teeth in an effort to keep them aligned.

Approximately 20 years later, gum elastics emerged. These were used to correct misaligned jaws, much like how overbites are corrected today. In the years thereafter, many improvements were made to these early appliances before braces were ultimately invented.

Today’s Braces

Though very different from today’s, the braces of the early 1900s still share many similarities. Bands, like today’s brackets, were wrapped around each individual tooth and connected with wiring. The materials used varied depending on what was available at the time, but dentists preferred using gold and silver.

By the 1970s, major breakthroughs in orthodontics were invented, namely, the adhesive that could attach brackets to the surface of teeth. Gold and silver stopped being used, and stainless steel became the preferred material. In the years since, braces and other orthodontic appliances have obviously been improved.

Fortunately for us, we’ll never have to use animal intestines to straighten our teeth! Alternatively, Dr. Kraus utilizes the latest in orthodontic practices to treat his patients. Contact us today for more information and to find what kind of braces are right for you.