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Modern Orthodontics: A Brief History

Advanced orthodontics may seem like a current medical technique to some, but historically, obsession with straight teeth has encouraged many ancient scholars to try and find methods to achieve it. As early as the Greek and Roman civilisations, Hippocrates and Aristotle proposed ideas for teeth straightening around 300 and 400 BC. There is also a

Advanced orthodontics may seem like a current medical technique to some, but historically, obsession with straight teeth has encouraged many ancient scholars to try and find methods to achieve it. As early as the Greek and Roman civilisations, Hippocrates and Aristotle proposed ideas for teeth straightening around 300 and 400 BC. There is also a piece of archaeological evidence found in a Roman tomb of a dental device with details on how it was used.

Orthodontics in the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1728, Pierre Fauchard wrote a book containing methods used in straightening teeth. Being the father of modern dentistry, he is also credited for experimenting with a device used for widening the upper palate. Several years later, another dentist published his book which had suggestions on how to improve the previously proposed methods by Fauchard. This dentist, Louis Bourdet, was also the first dentist to practice pulling out bicuspids as a remedy for teeth crowding.

It was not until the 19th century that orthodontics was clearly defined as a separate specialty. In 1819, the first use of a wire crib was recorded, and this is also the same time when other materials like steel, precious metals, and rubber were used to make loops, hooks, and spurs used for straightening teeth.

20th-century orthodontics

The American Association of Orthodontics was founded in 1901 by Edward Angle. He was also credited for developing a system to classify malocclusions. Before the 1970s, what we know today as modern braces used to be wrapped entirely around the teeth. By the mid-1970s, orthodontists began to use braces that directly adhered to the teeth along with braces that were attached to the back of the teeth.

Modern orthodontics

Modern orthodontics have advanced significantly since the earliest inception of methods used to straighten teeth. With the help of medical technology such as 3D imaging and sophisticated X-Ray machines, orthodontists can get a detailed and extensive look at the problem and propose a solution immediately.

These imaging techniques also lessen the patient’s exposure to radiation, making the process safer. Even orthodontic supplies have also improved in the last 20 years. Improved production methods and a variety of available materials offer diverse options for orthodontists and patients alike. Teeth straightening methods used today include:

  • Metal Braces. Conventional metal braces are perhaps the most popular teeth straightening method used today. The treatment usually lasts up to three years depending on the severity of the problem.
  • Ceramic braces. Ceramic braces look less conspicuous than metal braces. The process of attaching and treatment restrictions are similar to metal braces.
  • These are removable plastic aligners replaced every couple of weeks to adjust as your teeth alignment also shifts. Invisalign is ideal for correcting simple teeth alignment issues but is not effective in correcting bite issues.
  • Lingual braces. For patients who are conscious of wearing visible metal braces, lingual braces can be the alternative. This type of braces is attached to the back of the teeth but may pose some difficulties for the patient especially in speaking.

Indeed, orthodontic techniques will continue to evolve as further experimentation on materials and methods bring to light better options for treating teeth alignment issues.

Image: https://pixabay.com/photos/tooth-teeth-dentition-correction-1933012/

Susan E. Lopez
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