You may think you know the types of braces available: traditional metal, the Damon System and Invisalign are all fairly common. However, braces (before they were known as braces) have actually been around since ancient times. For centuries, orthodontic treatment was considered cosmetic, but today dentists know that misaligned teeth can lead to early tooth loss and periodontal disease. However, the very basic idea of braces has always been the same — apply light, constant pressure to shift teeth to the desired position. Still, you wouldn’t want orthodontic treatment like the ancient Egyptians had.
Braces, as we know them today, were not created until the 1800s. In ancient Egypt, though, cords created from animal intestines (catgut) were wrapped along teeth in an attempt to close gaps. Archeological finds have revealed Etruscan and Greek dental hardware suggesting orthodontics was around as far back as 1000 BC. In Etruscan culture, it was discovered that one aspect of the complex burial ritual included putting a retainer in the corpse’s mouth to stop any teeth from collapsing. After all, you want to look good in the afterlife. However, these retainers were designed from 24k gold and were only gifted to women.
An ancient Roman encyclopedist, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, kept intricate diaries about his medical research. He penned his attempts to align teeth via finger pressure alone. Celsus claims in his diaries to have discovered a means of moving teeth with routine finger pressure — ultimately makeshift Invisalign. Later, Celsus’ Roman peers created dental hardware that kind of looked like today’s braces. Tiny golden wires were attached to teeth in an attempt to close gaps.
In 1728, French endodontist Pierre Fauchard wrote a medical book that featured unorthodox approaches to dentistry. He was especially enamored with the bandeau, which was a small horseshoe-shaped device that fit into a patient’s teeth to move them. In 1757, the medical book The Dentist’s Art was published by Pierre Bourdet and outlined the best way to move teeth. One avenue was removing the wisdom teeth to stop crowding, and the other was a new and improved bandeau. By the 1770s, plenty of research was being conducted about orthodontics, but it was still too early to bring them to fruition in most parts of the world.
How Far We’ve Come
Braces wasn’t even a term until the 1900s. The earliest modern braces involved small bands of various materials being wrapped around each tooth, then connected via a wire. As you can imagine, it was not very comfortable, but it did work. Fortunately, innovations in orthodontics have brought us to contemporary methods that are comfortable, easy and affordable.
Call Johnson Elite Orthodontics today to get started on a path to healthier, more attractive teeth and options for various types of braces — no catgut necessary.