The History of Orthodontics

We work to provide the most cutting-edge orthodontic technology in our practice here at Dudley Smiles, but while we look towards the future, it’s helpful to remember how orthodontics has come so far. Let’s take a look at the past and talk about the fascinating history of orthodontics.

Humans have been interested in dental teeth alignment practices for thousands of years. As far back as 1000 B.C., the Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle discussed ideas on how to fix various dental conditions, as well as straightening teeth. Some of the early physical examples of teeth straightening have been discovered on mummies. Archaeologists discovered metal bands wrapped around individual teeth, assumed to correct teeth deformities.

While most of these early inventions tried to improve the aesthetics of a person’s tooth structure, the practice of straightening teeth for dental health reasons came about in the early 18th Century. In 1728, Pierre Fauchard created the first mechanism to straighten teeth. Fauchard used a horseshoe-shaped band made of precious metal that attempted to help expand a person’s arch.

Following this groundbreaking practice, Etienne Bourdet, the dentist to the king of France improved on Fauchard’s teeth-straightening mechanism 40 years later, in 1757. Bourdet scientifically proved to the world that jaw growth was possible with the help of mechanics. Both of these technological developments were major contributions to specialize orthodontics from dentistry.

The modern age of orthodontics began with the invention of the wire crib in 1819, created by Christophe-Francois Delabarre, followed by cutting rubber tubing into rubber bands in 1850. The following developments were focused on the process of putting braces on a patient, coupled with finding more comfortable materials for the person wearing braces.

The dental dam created by Dr. S.C. Barnum in 1864 was a piece of latex that fit around the teeth to protect the gums from the work being done on the teeth, and while it’s been improved, it’s a concept still used in orthodontic practices today.

From 1890–1970, orthodontics tried a variety of materials, ranging from wood to ivory to even gold, making for some high ticket prices for treatment.

Before the 1890’s, dentists all agreed it was necessary to remove molars in order to straighten teeth properly. But towards the end of the 19th Century, there was quite a bit of controversy among dentists, with more forward-thinking doctors researching new ways to evaluate a person’s symptoms to avoid extractions. This search led to advancements in techniques, so that extraction was only practiced in the most extreme situations.

Lady in cafe with Invisalign

In the 20th Century, Edward Angle, now known as the Father of Modern Orthodontics, sought to move orthodontics from merely a division of dentistry to its own specialization. Angle developed his own school of orthodontics, and through the school’s research came the system of classifications of irregularities in a person’s bite. This system built today’s practices of determining the crookedness of teeth, how they fit together, and the orientation of teeth.

Angle continued to contribute to the field when he formed the American Society of Orthodontics, now known as the American Association of Orthodontics. The students who attended Angle’s school were the first to be a part of this community, with many becoming major leaders in the field. Their unique interests led to the fast advancements made in the current age.

The improvements in the first 30 years of the 20th Century intended to improve the overall quality of life of the person undergoing orthodontic treatment. A major contribution to this practice was the development of an adhesive substance that bonds brackets to the teeth, while also minimizing the damage done to the teeth. When it was discovered that stainless steel could be used for wires, it made treatment drastically less expensive. In more recent years, custom brackets and wires that are fitted to each individual helped the process become much more comfortable. More importantly, each of these items together combined contributed to a significantly shortened timetable for the straightening process.

Not all of the advancements came from the improved mechanics of orthodontic practices, but also the research of the diagnosis and treatment planning process. For instance, CT scanners which produce three-dimensional images of the entire skull, jaw, and underlying bone structure, allowing practitioners to better understand a patient’s symptoms.

Following these major medical advances of the last hundred years, research turned to the aesthetics of orthodontic treatment, leading to the invention of lingual braces, worn on the inside of the teeth. Two Stanford University grads developed Invisalign in 1997, who used the concept of the retainer, but showed a retainer could straighten teeth – not just maintain an already adjusted smile. Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth worked together for three years to create these custom clear braces that would transform teeth in a much more comfortable way. Since its release in 2000, Invisalign has become an incredibly popular method of dental treatment, and Dr. Silas Dudley is an Invisalign expert, ready to introduce you to this non-invasive treatment method.

Portrait Of Three Teenage Girls Leaning Against Wall

While the field and technology of orthodontics continues to advance, Dr. Silas and his team stay on top of the latest technology to provide the most appropriate treatment, to leave you with stunning results for an unforgettable smile. Call the Dudley Smiles office today to discuss the with us the best (and most modern!) treatment needs for you.

You May Also Be Interested In

Back to Blog