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The History of Orthodontic Technology

Evidence has been found that even our past ancestors attempted to straighten and repair their teeth. In the tombs of the Etruscans, a civilization predating ancient Rome, several remains were found with ancient braces. This culture used gold, silver, and a fiber made from animal intestines and wrapped the teeth. This is considered the earliest known form of orthodontic braces. Centuries later in 1728, Fauchard is credited with introducing the first ‘technology’ in orthodontics. It was a simple device made to expand the dental arch.

It wasn’t until around the 1880’s that orthodontics was granted the title of a ‘science.’ Prior to that time, teeth were extracted and make-shift braces varied from dentist to dentist if they were even available at all. Due to this several different people have been influential in ‘inventing’ braces.

modern day diagram of braces

During the 1880’s J. N. Farrar published two extremely significant volumes called “A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections.” (http://inventors.about.com/od/dstartinventions/a/dentistry_4.htm). He was known for his consistent and effective braces and for suggesting that by using mild force over time the teeth would move. The information he provided was so significant he is often referred to as the father of American orthodontics. Pulling from Farrar’s ideas, Henry Baker introduced the use of rubber bands in 1893.

In 1894, Eugene Talbot became the first dentist to use X-rays in an orthodontic procedure. He found that X-rays could be used to locate teeth that were impacted under the gum. By locating and extracting these teeth he believed it could eliminate some overcrowding in the mouth.

Around 1911, Calvin Case became an extremely significant for the field of orthodontics. Prior to this time he had already written a book, 123 articles, and contributed to a textbook on dentistry (https://www.aaoinfo.org/system/files/media/documents/WahlHistoryAJO-DOChapter2.pdf). He strongly supported tooth extraction for correcting facial deformities and ultimately orthodontics were split into two opposing sides on the matter. It ultimately launched the “Great Extraction Debate,” in which modern orthodontists have taken Case’s side.

Edward Angle helped make orthodontics stand out as its own unique field of study. Not only did he publish multiple books on the subject, but he also held 37 patents on dental products including: the E-arch, pin-and-tube appliance, the edge-wise appliance, and the ribbon arch. His devices helped unify orthodontic practice by developing appliances that were universal and did not need to be designed for each individual patient.

In the 1970’s, braces went through some dramatic changes which greatly improved the process. Throughout the decade, dental adhesive was found to successfully stick brackets to the teeth which eliminated the need for individually wrapping each tooth. Additionally, stainless steel reduced both the cost and difficulty of the procedure.

In 1997, the most modern technique for braces was discovered by two people who were not dentists at all. Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth combined the technology of a 3-D computer with a simulator to build a clear, plastic retainer that works just as well as braces.

A lot has changed since these times, Dr. King a leading orthodontist in Dayton Ohio uses only the most advanced technology, such as Invisalign and Invisalign Teen.

King Orthodontics, 400 East Dayton, Yellow Springs Rd. Fairborn, OH 45324

Phone: (937) 878-1561 Fax: (937) 433-9530

The History of Orthodontic Technology