Published on April 27, 2017, Updated on April 13, 2020
Did you know that orthodontics—or the straightening of the teeth—has been around since Ancient Egypt? Or that the Romans, Ancient Greeks and Etruscans practiced different methods of orthodontia? Although orthodontics has become ever so popular in modern times, orthodontic history spans generations of time. People for thousands of years have had the desire to straighten their teeth. Mummies have been found with metal bands around their teeth, Etruscan women used gold bands to straighten, and philosophers and writers from as early as 400 B.C. wrote about orthodontic methods. Experiments were done with dental impressions in the 17th and 18th centuries, headgear emerged in 1822 and the “Father of Modern Orthodontics” (a.k.a. Edward Hartley Angle) advanced orthodontics tremendously in the 20th century. We don’t need to use crude instruments or a myriad of tests to see what will straighten teeth today; we have modern technological advances in teeth straightening that are proven to work and work quickly. At Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we practice effective and perfected methods of teeth straightening with traditional braces, Invisalign and lingual and ceramic braces to give you added confidence and self-esteem. Learn more about orthodontic history and how the practice has been perfected to what we do now.
Orthodontic History Throughout the Ages
- Archaeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands around their teeth, presumably used to move the teeth.
- The Etruscans practiced orthodontia after death by using gold bands on Etruscan women to keep the teeth straight after death. The ancient Greeks and Romans practiced the same thing.
- Hippocrates wrote about tooth irregularities as early as 400 B.C. That’s the earliest orthodontia writings we know about.
- Around 1 A.D., Celsus (a Roman writer), gave recommendations for straightening teeth by pushing them regularly into straighter paths. We don’t know if this was actually effective, but can assume it probably wasn’t.
- A man known as Pliny the Elder suggested filing the teeth to help make them straighter. At a time without anesthesia, this would have been painful!
- The first teeth impressions were done by Matthaeus Purmann and Phillip Pfaff in the 17th and 18th century using wax and then plaster. Thank goodness we have special (more bearable) mold materials today!
- The leading country in the field of dentistry and orthodontia in the 18th century was France.
- A Frenchman, Joachim Lefoulon was the one to give an official name to the straightening of the teeth in 1841: “orthodontosie”. This translated to “orthodontia”, which we still use today (or the other commonly used “orthodontics”).
- Pierre Fauchard is considered the “Father of Dentistry” and lived during the 18th century. For orthodontia, he forcibly moved teeth with forceps, then tied them to neighboring teeth to keep them in place until they healed from the forceful trauma. Talk about painful!
- Orthodontic history shows that orthodontic practices had not made much headway in the United States before 1830. There was no dental degree or dental system at this time and it was common for physicians, barbers and regular townspeople to do dental treatment on others.
- Edward Hartley Angle is considered the “Father of Orthodontics”, as he was the first to create effective orthodontic appliances in 1880 and later. He also made major steps in our knowledge of teeth misalignment and malocclusion.
- Charles Goody in 1839 was the first to accidentally create a rubber-like type of mold that was then used in orthodontia to take impressions and make dentures.
- Another important Charles in orthodontic history was Charles Tweed. He was the first certified orthodontist in the U.S.
- Orthodontic history was greatly impacted when brackets were first invented by Edward Angle in 1915. Several different modifications were made to get us to the metal brackets we now use today.
- E.G. Tucker was the first dentist/orthodontist to use rubber bands to straighten the teeth. Proving highly effective, orthodontists still use rubber bands today to help move teeth.
- After the 1970s, stainless steel was used for metal wires and brackets instead of real gold and silver, making the manipulation of the material much easier to control when straightening teeth.
With many of these orthodontic history facts, it’s easy to see just how long it took to perfect the art of orthodontics. The practice became much more perfected after 1970. Nowadays, the process of straightening teeth seems so easy, but it wasn’t always that way. Technology is ever advancing and instead of pure metal brackets, we also have other options for teeth straightening: Invisalign transparent aligners, lingual braces that go behind the teeth, and ceramic clear braces that blend into the teeth.
It’s clear that all ages of man have been conscious about straight teeth and have sought after (sometimes very painful) methods of achieving it. No longer do we have to follow crude methods of teeth straightening; we get to do it the easy way with professional orthodontic practices that are proven to work. At Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, you can be confident that we will use the best products to get you the most beautiful, straight smile in as little time as possible. Call our office today at (720) 887-6003 for your free consultation and to learn more about our services!