Orthodontics, a fancy name for a very old system

Close up of a girl with bad crooked teethIf you think that visiting the orthodontist sounds very up-to-the-minute, then think again. Although it is on trend to get your teeth straightened, orthodontics as a branch of dentistry has been around since the ancient Egyptians. In fact, if you look closely at some of the hieroglyphics on the walls of the teenage king Tutankhamen, you can even see the symbol for braces. I am only partly kidding. People have wanted straighter teeth since forever, and indeed, the earliest braces have been found on mummified remains from Ancient Egypt.

Fortunately, cats are no longer part of braces technology, and dentists, such as those at Park Orthodontics in Glasgow, use technology that is far more discreet and comfortable. But how did we get from there to here? Let’s take a look at the longish and venerable history of getting straighter teeth.

The revolution always starts in France

While some men in late 18th century France were inventing efficient ways to get rid of parasitic noblemen, others were turning their minds to the issue of wonky teeth. Pierre Fauchard, aka the Father of Dentistry, was first off the mark with an appliance called the bandeau. Not known for being almost invisible, this was a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron with regularly spaced holes to fit around the teeth and correct their alignment.

Seeing room for improvement, another Frenchman, Christophe-Francois Delabarre, chose another abundant material: wood. He drove wooden wedges between overcrowded teeth to separate them.

It all went quiet on the braces front until the 1970s and the invention of dental adhesives. Now we could stick stainless steel brackets to the teeth and attach winding wires. Thus came the dawning of a time known as the age of ‘train track’ braces. They weren’t pretty, they weren’t comfy, but, boy, did they straighten teeth.

Thankfully, dental researchers kept on researching and now in the 21st century, we have braces made of high tech materials, such as clear ceramic brackets and tooth-coloured wires, which are much smaller and more hygienic.

3D printing is also used for orthodontics, in the form of clear resin mouth guard style aligners that fit almost invisibly over the teeth.

There are even braces that fit behind the teeth so no one can see them.