Braces have been around for hundreds of years- people have always wanted straighter teeth! Here are a few ways people tried dental care in the past.
Archaeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands around the teeth – which are believed to be the first version of braces.
Ancient Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans also practiced orthodontia. Roman writer named Celsus, 400 years later, recommended bringing newly emerging teeth into their proper position by regularly pushing them with your fingers.
17th and 18th Centuries
At the beginning of the 17th century, dental impressions began by professionals who used wax. Then in 1756, Phillip Pfaff used plaster of Paris.
Nothing much changed in orthodontics from ancient times until the 18th centyr. Then, there was a big development. Pierre Fauchard, born in 1728, is considered the Father of Dentistry because he invented an appliance called bandeau. This horseshoe-shaped strip of metal contained regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth to correct their alignment. The teeth were forced into place then tied to surround teeth. Yikes!
Then, another dentist tried separating overcrowded teeth by inserting swelling threads or wooden wedges between each space.
Orthodontics in the United States
Significant contributions to the practice of orthodontics in the United States began in the 19th century. In 1822, J.S. Gunnell invented the occipital anchorage, a form of headgear that fastens to the jaw from the outside of the mouth to exert gentle pressure on the teeth. Then in 1840, Chapin A. Harris published the first classic book on dentistry, “The Dental Art,” outlining practices such as soldering knobs on bands to assist with tooth rotation, and applying gold caps to molars to open the dental bite.
When Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1839, orthodontists realized the new material’s potential, and started making rubber appliances.
It’s a good thing braces have advanced to what they are today! We aren’t sure we’d want to try any of those early versions.