Evolution of Braces: Then and Now

Braces are a far cry from the teeth-alignment practices of hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Now, more than half of American teenagers wear braces, but back in the day some pretty strange gadgets were used in orthodontic care. Take a look at these braces of the past!

Ancient BracesEvolution of Braces

Even ancient civilizations believed that a beautiful smile goes a long way. Ancient Greeks apparently aligned their teeth using gold wires – that would be a pretty expensive luxury today! Even stranger, Egyptian mummies have been found with catgut bands, which are made from animal intestines, wrapped around their teeth. Imagine having that in your mouth!

18th Century

A Frenchman named Pierre Fauchard invented a device called the “Bandeau,” a metal object shaped like a horseshoe that attached to gold wires and corrected tooth alignment. This bulky metal “Bandeau” would have been a lot less fun to wear than the trendy bandeau tops people wear today!

20th Century

  • In the early 1900s, people aligned their teeth using all kinds of materials: gold, silver, copper, even ivory and wood. Gold worked great because it was soft and easy to mold, but its softness was also a downside because it bent out of place and had to be adjusted frequently.
  • By the 1970s, modern braces were taking hold. Professionals ditched the bulky, embarrassing wires and headgear for direct bonding, or gluing stainless-steel brackets to the teeth using dental adhesive. The subtlety of these braces was taken a step further with lingual braces, where the brackets are placed on the backs of teeth instead of the front. Tooth-colored brackets became another new way to disguise braces.

Modern Braces and Invisalign

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Invisalign took orthodontic care to a whole new level with invisible, removable teeth alignment. With Invisalign, you can eat all the foods that you can’t eat with braces, because you simply take it out while eating and pop it back in when you’re done. No wires for food to get stuck in!

Now, people even customize their braces, adding a personal flare by choosing brightly colored rubber bands. Aren’t you glad to live in a time when braces are constantly developing from the unusual orthodontic methods of the past?

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