You might think of teeth straightening as a modern dental marvel, but teeth straightening techniques and braces have been around for quite some time.
Teeth straightening methods go way back to ancient times. Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman physician, all wrote and speculated on crooked teeth and how to fix them, with Celsus advocating for treating crooked teeth by applying finger pressure to move the teeth into position.
Mummies in Egypt have also been discovered to have metal or gold bands wrapped around their teeth in an apparent attempt to close gaps in teeth. A cord made from animal’s intestines called catgut was also used in an effort to fix gapped teeth.
Evidence suggests that the Etruscans afixed a type of dental appliance onto their dead countrymen to keep the teeth in place and prevent them from collapsing inward once their body was buried and in the afterlife.
After ancient experiments, there doesn’t appear to be any teeth straightening practices until the 18th century. In 1728, the father of modern orthodontics, French dentist Pierre Fauchard published The Surgeon Dentist, which was the first scientific description of dentistry. In it, he discussed methods of straightening teeth including using a bandeau, a piece of iron shaped like a horseshoe that was meant to expose the palate and move teeth and then keep them in the desired position. In 1754, Louis Bourdet, another French dentist, published The Dentist’s Art which perfected Fauchard’s bandeau and advocated for removing wisdom teeth to avoid crowding and improve the growth of the jaw.
The 19th century saw the emergence of orthodontics as a science. In 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre unveiled the wire crib that was placed directly over every pair of teeth to keep them in place. This was the first instance in which braces came to be. Then in 1843 Edward Maynard used elastics with braces for jaw alignment and three years later E.J. Tucker created rubber bands from rubber tubing to make braces more comfortable. Norman William Kingsley wrote the first article about orthodontics in 1858 and then followed that work up with his book Treatise on Oral Deformities in 1880. Meanwhile, S.C. Barnum created the dental dam, a thin piece of latex that protects gums when braces are being placed, a version of which dentists still use today.
Edward Angle, known as the father of American orthodontics, developed the first classification system to understand how crooked teeth are, how they fit together, and which way that they’re pointing which is still used today. He also contributed to the designs of orthodontic appliances, founded the first school and college of orthodontics, founded the first orthodontic journal, and organized what is known today as the American Association of Orthodontists.
Today there are an even greater number of ways to straighten teeth beyond metal braces, including ceramic braces and Invisalign®. If you have any questions about teeth straightening and the treatments we offer, contact our office today to schedule an appointment!