The History of Braces

If you want to straighten your teeth or align your jaw, your dentist might suggest orthodontic treatment with braces. Your dentist uses state-of-the-art equipment, but orthodontics did not always have modern technology. Yet people have sought to straighten their smiles since nearly the beginning of time.

Braces, one of the most recognizable orthodontic treatments, can trace their origins to ancient civilizations. We still use them today, but they did not always feature metal wires and brackets. Read on to learn more about how braces became the standard for straightening teeth and how early orthodontics affects the modern treatments offered by your Columbia, MD dentist.

teeth straightening treatment with traditional metal braces

Early Teeth-Straightening Efforts

Archaeologists uncovered ancient mummies that had a cord and metal attached to their teeth. However, the first documented attempt to straighten crooked teeth came from Ancient Rome, when philosopher Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote that he could move his teeth when he applied pressure with his hands at routine intervals.

In the eighteenth century, French dentists began to shift their focus to orthodontics. They invented a device that could expand the upper palate of the mouth and prevent teeth from shifting out of place.  They also performed tooth extractions to help their patients with overcrowding within the mouth.

Evolution to Traditional Braces

An early version of traditional braces as you might picture them was invented in 1819. They featured a wire crib-like appliance that fit over a patient’s teeth. As the century progressed, dentists focused on their patients’ comfort and added elastic and rubber banding to the device.

By the early twentieth century, braces were a popular dental treatment, though it was largely too expensive for the average patient. Dentists reworked the design of braces in the 1970s to replace metal framework with steel, making the appliance more comfortable. This had the benefit of becoming more affordable and accessible too. The treatment resembled the brackets and wires of braces that dental professionals still use today.

Modern Orthodontic Treatment Options

Dentists and orthodontists still use traditional braces to align patients’ teeth and jaws today. But modern adjustments have also allowed patients to choose new orthodontic treatments too. For instance, patients who prefer a more subtle appearance to their teeth-straightening treatment can ask their dentist about clear braces.

Patients might also benefit from Invisalign, which uses sets of clear-colored plastic aligners that will gradually shift teeth into a straighter position. They wear these custom oral appliances for 22 hours a day or more to achieve their cosmetic dental goals.

Patients appreciate that they can take out the aligners when eating and completing their oral hygiene routines. This creates less disruption to their usual activities than fixed orthodontia.

But while Invisalign can fix crooked teeth and minor gaps in the smile, patients will likely need braces to amend more severe malocclusions. Schedule a consult with your dentist to learn which orthodontic treatment can get you the smile of your dreams and improve your oral health.