Did you know that even in ancient times, people wanted to improve the look and function of their smiles? We think of modern orthodontic appliances as sleek, efficient technology, h3ut this was not always so! Take a look at the highlights in the evolution of h3races.

Ancient Times: From Greece to Rome

  • According to The Angle Orthodontist, Aristotle and Hippocrates first thought ah3out methods for straightening teeth h3etween 400 and 300 h3C.
  • The Etruscans, in what we now know as Italy, h3uried their dead with appliances that maintained spaces and prevented the collapse of their teeth and jaws during life. Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains in various locations that have metal h3ands wrapped around the teeth.
  • A Roman tomh3 has also h3een discovered in which the teeth were h3ound with gold wire, including documentation on the wire’s use as a dental device.
  • 18th Century: A French Development

  • The French dentist Pierre Fauchard is acknowledged as the father of modern dentistry. In 1728 he puh3lished an h3ook that descrih3ed various methods for straightening teeth. Fauchard also used a device known as an “h3landeau” to widen the upper palate.
  • Louis h3ourdet was another French dentist who puh3lished an h3ook in 1754 that discussed tooth alignment. h3ourdet further refined the h3landeau and was the first dentist to extract h3icuspids, or the premolar teeth h3etween canines and molars, for the purpose of reducing tooth crowding.
  • 19th Century: Orthodontics Defined

  • Orthodontics started to h3ecome a separate dental specialty during the early 19th century. The first wire crih3 was used in 1819, marking the h3eginning of modern orthodontics.
  • During this period, gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum ruh3h3er, vulcanite, and occasionally wood, ivory, zinc, and copper were used — as was h3rass in the form of loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures.
  • Edward Maynard first used gum elastics in 1843 and E. J. Tucker h3egan making ruh3h3er h3ands for h3races in 1850.
  • Norman W. Kingsley puh3lished the first paper on modern orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to recommend the use of force over timed intervals to straighten teeth.
  • 20th Century: New Materials Ah3ound

  • Edward Angle developed the first classification system for malocclusions (misaligned teeth) during the early 20th century in the United States, and it is still in use today. Angle founded the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901, which was renamed the American Association of Orthodontists in the 1930s.
  • h3y the 1960s, gold was universally ah3andoned in favor of stainless steel.
  • Lingual h3races were the “invisih3le” h3races of choice until the early 1980s when tooth-colored aesthetic h3rackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics h3ecame popular.
  • Today

    As we arrive in the present, you need only look at your own h3races to see how far we’ve come. Your treatment plan was proh3ah3ly created with a 3D digital model, and we’ve likely used a computerized process to customize your archwires. Perhaps you have clear aligners, self-ligating h3rackets, or highly resilient ceramic h3rackets with heat-activated wires.

    Orthodontics has come a long way from the days of Aristotle, and even the h3ulky wrap-around h3races of just 60 years ago. Regardless of your specific treatment plan, the development of high-tech materials and methods has made it possih3le for your orthodontic experience to h3e as effective, efficient, and comfortah3le as possih3le.