Setting the Record Straight: The History of Orthodontics

Straight teeth aren’t a recent cosmetic wish – symmetrical, even smiles have always been desirable. History shows us that even thousands of years ago, people were attempting to align teeth with some rather surprising methods. We’re looking back at the history of orthodontic treatment from ancient times until now, to learn how modern orthodontics came to be.

If you desire a straighter, more beautiful smile, Markham Orthodontics can help! Dr. David Markham and Dr. Steven Scott offer orthodontic treatments for every age and lifestyle, to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. For braces, retainers, mouth guards, or Invisalign treatment in the greater Sacramento, CA area, contact our practice — with three convenient locations to better serve you!

Ancient Evidence

The early Egyptians were some of the first people who created early orthodontic instruments to align crooked teeth. Egyptian mummies have been found with metal pieces around their teeth, which researchers believe may have been connected to cords for the purpose of straightening misaligned teeth.

Ancient Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans employed similar tactics. Ancient Etruscan remains have shown gold bands around preserved bodies, that were thought to have maintained their teeth alignment after death. Famous philosophers Aristotle and Hippocrates even wrote about different tactics for correcting teeth alignment issues.

The 18th Century

With the 18th century came a new wave of enlightenment and research into many medical fields. A French physician named Pierre Fauchard, who is often called the Father of Dentistry, researched and wrote extensively on different methods for straightening teeth. In addition, he created a dental appliance known as a bandeau. Essentially an early retainer, this semi-circular metal device was developed to fit around teeth and apply steady pressure to misaligned teeth. Fauchard also experimented with early oral surgery and would use forceps to move misaligned teeth forcefully into place before tying them to surrounding teeth during the healing process.

American Orthodontic History and Modern Techniques

In the 19th century, early American orthodontic treatment began. J. S. Gunnell is credited with the creation of the occipital anchorage, a dental appliance designed to be worn outside of the mouth. This device is similar to modern orthodontic headgear. Vulcanized rubber was created by Charles Goodyear in 1839; after a process of vulcanizing rubber by adding additional chemicals, rubber became more flexible, durable, and resistant to wear. This new, more pliable material helped to advance many orthodontic studies.

Edward Hartley Angle, known as the “Father of Modern Orthodontics,” taught and practiced orthodontics in the Midwest in the late 19th century and developed over 40 patents for orthodontic appliances. He founded the Angle Orthodontist, an international journal of research and study that is still in publication today.

In the 1970s, dental adhesives became widely used, and changed modern braces. Dental brackets were developed in the mid-1970s which replaced the older method of wrapping wires around teeth. Today, 3-D imaging, X-ray technology, and 3-D printing has completely changed orthodontic treatments. Invisalign® and other clear aligners allow for nearly invisible teeth alignment solutions, helping to solve the cosmetic issues which patients have long associated with orthodontics.

Schedule Your Complimentary Consultation

Orthodontic treatments have come a long way from their humble beginnings. We are proud to offer high-quality, precision orthodontic care in the Sacramento, CA, and Auburn, CA areas. If you would like to see what orthodontic treatment options are available for you, contact our practice to schedule a free consultation with our team! Call us at (916) 924-8970.