23/04/2020

The ancient history of dental braces

‘Metal mouth’, ‘Robo-gob’, ‘brace-face’ all common taunting nicknames that have been circulating the playground for decades and although dental braces feature on the teeth of many teens, the history of an orthodontic practice is much older than you might think.

Modern-day practices often use a combination of appliances and devices to assist in the realignment and straightening of an individual’s bite. Still, historians and scholars believe these methods could date back to around 400-300 BC.

Both Hippocrates, a Greek physician and Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, recorded their thoughts on how to fix various dental issues. While the Roman philosopher and physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus detailed the treatment of misaligned teeth by applying pressure with the fingers.

The Etruscan people of the 6th century BC were known for placing dental devices to the teeth of their dead to stop the collapse of their dental palette in the afterlife. Archaeological discoveries have also uncovered tombs containing bodies with metal bands and cat intestines wrapped around their teeth!

Despite these early inventions and techniques, it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that orthodontics really began to develop as a field in its own right. Many sources credit the invention of modern orthodontics to Frenchman Pierre Fauchard, who published The Surgeon Dentist in 1728. In this book, he details the use of an iron horseshoe-shaped device called a ‘bandeau’ used to expand the pallet and straighten the user’s teeth.

Now the process has developed with incredible precision, braces are no longer the giant metal cages designed to shame you into the shadows, but wearers can obtain invisible braces so nobody would even know they were there. In some areas of the world, braces are actually deemed incredibly attractive and show a sense of wealth.

Are you interested in learning more about how advancements in dentistry can change lives?

Why not check out the Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses we offer in Dental Technology, available for both full and part-time study. For more information on our entry requirements and facilities, click here.

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