It seems that the quest for straight teeth has been a human goal for quite some time. Archaeologists have discovered mummified ancient people with basic bands wrapped around individual teeth possibly made from catgut instead of today’s orthodontic wire. Famous Greek philosophers, Hippocrates and Aristotle both pondered the different ways in which teeth might be straightened and how various dental conditions could be fixed.
A Roman tomb in Egypt also showed the remains of a body with gold wire wrapped around a number of teeth. Around the time of Christ, there is documentation of treating teeth by finger pressure but all these ideas were fairly rudimentary and didn’t seem to catch on. In fact, there weren’t any real advances in orthodontics until the eighteenth century. Dentists began to think about bad bites and a chap called Pierre Fauchard published a book in 1728 containing information about ways to straighten teeth. He advocated the use of a device called a Bandeau which was a horse-shoe shaped piece of metal which helped to expand the arch.
Another French dentist continued this work and wrote a book called ‘The Dentist’s Art’ in 1757 which devoted a whole chapter to tooth alignment and appliances for achieving it. Etienne Bourdet was the dentist to the French king and was the first dentist to be recorded performing extractions for issues of overcrowding. He was also the first to scientifically prove jaw growth. For ifsc dental, visit http://www.docklandsdental.ie/.
In 1819, Delabarre introduced the wire crib which kick started the modern orthodontics that we practice today. Gum elastics were first used in 1843 and the late 1800’s saw the first use of x rays for orthodontic diagnosis. Whilst Fauchard is seen as the father of orthodontics, there are other great names in dentistry history that include Norman W. Kingsley who wrote his first article on the subject in 1858 and then in 1880 wrote a further book called a ‘Treatise on Oral Deformities’. Another who deserves mention is J.N Farrar who was particularly adept at designing brace appliances. He was the first to advocate placing gentle pressure at timed intervals to move teeth. He also wrote two books called ‘A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections’.
In the early 20th century, braces were made from gold, silver, platinum, rubber or steel to form loops, hooks and ligatures. Occasionally even wood, ivory, copper and brass were used. 14 to 18 karat gold was most often used for the wires. Gold is very malleable and easy to shape which is why it was so popular. But it was expensive and due to it’s softness, had to be adjusted many times. It wasn’t until the 1950’s and 60’s that stainless steel was used for the first time in braces.
Nowadays we are used to the bonded bracket and it had been around for a long time before it could be used, as the development of effective adhesive had to catch up. During the 1970’s a method was developed so people could have braces fitted to the inside of their teeth and then the 1980’s brought ‘tooth coloured’ brackets so as to be a lot more discrete. Today we have brackets made from ceramic and metal and can even be offered clear braces that can hardly be seen at all.