The Evolution of Braces


Dental braces and orthodontics aren’t as modern as you might think. In fact, orthodontics appears to date back as far as the Ancient Greeks and Romans who used gold bands to preserve teeth after death, and used fingers to regularly push emerging teeth into their optimal positions.

It was only in the 17th and 18th Centuries that dental impressions began being taken with wax and plaster of Paris, and swelling threads and wooden wedges were used to separate crooked teeth.

The First American Braces

In the United States of America, orthodontics began to really grow in the early 19th Century. “The Dental Art,” a book by Chapin A. Harris, published in 1839, set out a number of orthodontics basics that we still use to this day. It also introduced early dental concepts including gold caps on molars, bands that helped with tooth rotation, and early braces that kept teeth straight.

In 1864, Dr Sanford Christie Barnum invented the first iteration of the modern dental dam. By puncturing a hole in a piece of rubber, which he then pulled over a tooth, he was able to create a dry working field for the first time. The advancement was hugely important for the developing dentistry industry, and within just a few years, the method became widespread and used by dentists all over the United States and beyond.

Then, in the 20th Century, Edward Hartley Angle created modern orthodontic equipment, including early braces, thanks to his accurate identification of misalignment and malocclusion of the teeth. The standards set by Hartley Angle were improved upon until big changes started appearing in the 1970s.

Moving Beyond Wire Braces

Early modern braces used wire to hold brackets to the teeth, which made them large, unsightly, and uncomfortable. After the 1970s, modern adhesives meant that braces could be made smaller and less intrusive by sticking anchors directly to the tooth. The metals used changed, too. Instead of gold, stainless steel was a more affordable and durable metal that could be used for long periods of time.

But no matter how strong the adhesive was, dental braces were still noticeable, uncomfortable, and unsightly.

In the late 20th and early 21st Century, everything changed.

A Clear Dental Revolution 

In 1997, Invisalign produced the least invasive dental brace product yet. This is a 100% clear dental brace that align your teeth without unsightly metal bands and wires, and with no adhesive. The invisible brace can be taken in and out of the mouth whenever the patient likes and, over time, custom-made aligners are replaced so that they reflect how the teeth are moving.

Every two weeks, a new Invisalign brace will push the teeth further until they have been set permanently in their new position. Not only is the process less invasive and unsightly, but it takes less time and doesn’t require a complicated fitting process.

Early braces and dental technique seem terrifying compared to today’s advances, so let’s be thankful that clear braces are available to us and correcting crooked teeth is painless and easy.

About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.