Where Did Braces Come From?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, braces were worn prior to 400 BC! Back then it appears that catgut supplied the bands around teeth that were designed to straighten them.

We have definitely come a long way in orthodontics! Today’s teeth-straightening products are more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than ever before.

Let’s look at some of the interesting history of the traditional “metal mouth” braces and learn how we made it to today’s “invisible braces.”

Who You Calling Brace Face? History of Braces

Greek philosophers Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about possible ways to straighten teeth. Prior to the Roman Empire, ancient peoples were burying their dead with appliances designed to straighten teeth. Historians have found evidence of ligature wires to hold teeth in place, as well as attempts to straighten teeth with fingers.

In 1782, a French dentist who documented chapters on how to straighten teeth published “The Surgeon Dentist.” There was also “The Dentist’s Art” in 1757; light reading for those of you interested in metal appliances in the evolution of dental appliances.

But most agree that 1819 marked the true birth of modern orthodontics. That’s when the wire crib to straighten teeth was created. In 1841 the term “orthodontia” was created to describe a newly expanding field devoted to repairing the jaw and bite, along with creating a nicer smile.

The first gum elastics, those little rubber bands that go with braces, were used in 1850. X-rays came along in the 1800s, which are vital to the orthodontic process that we know today. But orthodontics really took off in 1880, when several dentists launched some of the techniques that we still use (with significant improvements!) today:

  • Norman W. Kinsley, who wrote the book, Treatise on Oral Deformities, in 1858.
  • Then there was J.N. Farrar who wrote a two-volume set called, A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections.

These dentists started us down the path toward today’s modern orthodontics. In the United States in the early 1900s, Edward Angle gets credit for designing the classes that dentists still use to rank the severity of tooth and jaw problems. The classification system ranks how misaligned teeth are, how they fit together, and how the bite fits together in the human mouth.

Where Did Braces Come From?

In the 1900s braces were made out of real gold and silver. Fancy, right? It wasn’t until the 1970s that the full wrap brace – or “metal mouth” began to give way to more modern braces that were bonded to the teeth instead of wired around the outside. By 1975 the first “invisible” braces came out. The braces were bonded to the inside of the teeth, and not as apparent on the front of the teeth.

Then came today’s Invisalign braces! This was truly a match made in Silicon Valley. Two Stanford University graduates created the product by using 3-D computer imaging. The project was funded by venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley, and today’s modern braces really took off.

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