You may think of orthodontics as a contemporary practice, but evidence has been discovered proving that even ancient Greeks and Romans were inventing devices and attempting to fix tooth problems. Mummies have been found wearing devices, similar to braces, that were made from metals and catgut. Later, in the 18th century, a dentist named Pierre Fauchard wrote a book that contained an entire chapter on straightening teeth. However, it was not until 1841 that Joachim Lefoulon coined the word “orthodontics” for the first time. From this point on, the field of orthodontia advanced rapidly, with new improvements still being developed.
Orthodontic advances in the 1800s
- 1819: Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented the first wire crib, which is an early kind of dental brace.
- 1843: Dr. Edward Maynard began using gum elastics to correct jaw alignment.
- 1850: E.J. Tucker cut rubber tubing into small bands to more comfortably correct tooth alignment.
- 1893: Henry A. Baker developed the “Baker anchorage,” which combines rubber tubing with the previously invented wire crib.
- 1899: Edward H. Angle published his classification of malocclusion, which is still used today. Malocclusion refers to teeth that are not aligned properly.
Orthodontic advances in the 1900s
- 1901: Edward H. Angle founded the first orthodontic school, the American Society of Orthodontia.
- 1915: The International Journal of Orthodontia and Oral Surgery was started.
- Early 1900s: Metal bands (often gold) were wrapped entirely around each tooth in a person’s mouth and then connected by a wire.
- 1930: The American Board of Orthodontics was incorporated after being founded in 1929.
- 1950s-1960s: Steel becomes the metal most used for braces, replacing gold.
- 1968: Earl Bergersen developed the Ortho-Train device to correct malocclusions and guide jaw growth.
- 1970s: Brackets were placed on teeth with a newly discovered adhesive, instead of being wrapped around the entire tooth.
- 1997: Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth, neither of whom have any dental or orthodontic training, create Invisalign® trough 3D printing technology.
As you can see, the practice of orthodontics has grown and improved greatly over the centuries. With new and advancing technologies being worked on everyday, orthodontia will only continue to progress and improve in the coming years.