Ancient Egyptians & Greeks Used Orthodontics Too

A Brief History of Orthodontics

There have been many advances in orthodontics in the last few decades, taking us from metal bands around every tooth, to brackets and wires, to the new clear aligners available from Invisalign. But did you know that these advances are only a small part of a history that dates back as far as ancient Egypt?

The desire to have straight teeth for a perfect smile is one that has existed for ages, and thanks to some great thinkers and innovators throughout the centuries it is one that is now easier than ever to achieve. If you desire a perfect smile and are interested in braces or Invisalign, call our Bowmanville, ON dental office today at (905) 697-9799 to schedule a consultation with one of our caring doctors.

Ancient Orthodontics

Archaeologists have discovered human remains with crooked teeth that date back as far as 50,000 years. The first attempt at fixing these teeth was found in the remains of ancient Egyptian mummies. Many of the mummies found had metal bands around the teeth, with catgut tied to them to provide pressure for moving the teeth.

Evidence has also been found that shows the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans (predecessors of the Romans in Italy) also practiced some form of orthodontia.

The Etruscans placed a device similar to a mouth guard, made out of gold, in the mouths of their deceased women to prevent facial collapse and preserve the spacing of their teeth so they would look good entering the afterlife.

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, wrote the first description of tooth irregularities known to exist around 400 BC, and 400 years later, a Roman writer named Celsus suggested pushing newly emerged teeth with the fingers to guide them into proper position.

The Beginning of Modern Orthodontics

Between ancient times and the 18th century there were not many advancements made, with the notable exception of the development of dental impressions. Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann began taking wax impressions around the beginning of the 17th century.

Born in 1728, a man named Pierre Fauchard became known as the Father of Dentistry when he created a device called the bandeau, a piece of metal shaped like a horseshoe that fit around the teeth to correct alignment. In 1757, Pierre Bourdet, dentist to the King of France, published a book in which he theorized that the teeth in the back of the mouth (now called wisdom teeth) could be extracted to prevent overcrowding, which was considered the leading cause of misaligned teeth.

Modern Day Orthodontic Treatment

In 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented a device called the wire crib, thought to be the first form of modern day orthodontia. The device was shaped in a half circle and was place directly on the teeth to keep them in alignment.

Then, in the late 1800s, a man named Edward Hartley Angle arrived on the scene. Considered the Father of Modern Orthodontics, Hartley identified the properties of malocclusion and created, and consistently improved upon, a set of orthodontic appliances that grew increasingly more effective during the 20th century.

By the 1970s, the appliances had evolved into a system of brackets attached by winding wire around each tooth. With the invention of dental adhesives, orthodontists found they could eliminate the wires and adhere the brackets directly to the tooth with one stainless steel wire threaded across them to guide the teeth into place, creating the bracket and wire braces we know and love.

Call Us for a Consultation

Many advances have been made in orthodontia since those first metal bands and catgut the Egyptians used. With the latest advancement of Invisalign clear aligners, orthodontics have become more comfortable and less conspicuous at the same time. If you or your child suffer from misaligned teeth and are interested in braces or Invisalign, call our Bowmanville, ON dental office today at (905) 697-9799 and schedule a consultation with one of our amazing doctors. We look forward to meeting you!