For as long as humans have had teeth, people have sought ways to keep them healthy and make them stronger. “Orthodontics” is derived from the Greek orthos (“correct”, “straight”) and -odont- (“tooth”). According to the American Association of Orthodontists, archaeologists have discovered mummified ancients with metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.
Archaeologists have also discovered dental appliances used by Ancient Greeks and Etruscans, as early as 1000B.C. Part of their burial ritual included the placement of a device similar to a mouth guard into the deceased’s mouth. This was done to preserve the spacing and keep the teeth from sinking inward, so the dead looked good when they entered the afterlife. Called bridges, they were made from pure gold. Interestingly, the bridges were worn only by women, suggesting that cosmetics and vanity were important concerns.
Later on, the Romans continued discovering dental devices, including one that closely resembles modern orthodontic devices. While exploring Roman tombs, it was discovered that some had a small gold wire on their teeth, which was used to affix the arch wire to the bracket. The wire was bound to the teeth in an effort to force the teeth to move and close off noticeable gaps. Although there is no date documented, this process was most likely before the start of our era.