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History of Orthodontics

Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner

Many believe that the desire for straighter and healthier teeth is a modern man’s delight. We have greatly advanced our methods for teeth alignment and can better correct future teeth problems. Orthodontists became a common profession in the 19th century and many people believe that this was the start of professional tooth care. However this is not the case. Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics will shed some light on the first orthodontists.

When Were Braces First Used in Ancient Egypt?

Archaeologists have found crooked teeth in human remains dating back 50,000 years. In modern times orthodontists use braces to correct misaligned teeth. Something very similar has been found in Egyptian mummies. Many of the mummies have been found with crude metal bands around their teeth. Some archaeologists believe catgut may have been tied to these bands to provide pressure to move the teeth into proper alignment.

How Have Braces Changed Over the Centuries?

The Ancient Greeks, the Etruscans and the Romans also practiced orthodontia. This method describes a gold band that was used on Etruscan women to preserve the position of the teeth after death. In an ancient Greek physician’s writing that was found, it suggests the first known description of tooth irregularities at around 400 B.C. A Roman writer named Celsus, 400 years later, recommended bringing newly emerging teeth into their proper position by regularly pushing them with your fingers. To correct elongated teeth, another Roman named Pliny the Elder, who lived from 23 to 79 A.D., advised filing them to size. This is some of the oldest known use of orthodontics.

1728 Pierre Fauchard Father of Dentisty & 18th Century Orthodontics

In the 17th century, Matthaeus Gottfried began using wax to create the first dental impressions. Then in 1756 Phillip Pfaff evolved the techniques of taking impressions, by using plaster, which began a huge step in dentistry advancement. Pierre Fauchard was born in 1728 and grew up to become known as the Father of Dentistry. He invented an appliance called bandeau. This was a horseshoe shape metal strip that fit around the teeth with regular spaced holes to correct the teeth alignment — the first braces. Fauchard would also operate on patients with a set of forceps called a pelican, forcibly realigning teeth and tying them to the neighboring teeth to hold them in place while they healed. The next major breakthrough contributing to the practice of orthodontics began in the 19th century, in the United States. 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.

Modern Orthodontics

The art of orthodontics and dentistry goes back far longer than most people realize. This however has been a skill at least as old as 400 B.C. This makes orthodontics one of the longest ongoing professions. We are very grateful to the advance in today’s understanding and technology. We at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics want to give thanks to mankind’s history and development in the field of Orthodontics. Contact us for your orthodontic care.