The History of Braces | CariFree

Updated: June 1, 2021

Have you ever wondered who invented braces? Or where and when they were invented? The history of braces is surprising and takes us on a journey back thousands of years. We, surprisingly, have even more in common with ancient Egyptians than we might have thought! If you are getting braces, there are a lot of factors to consider when making the decision for which will be best for you. Thankfully, today’s options have come a long way, as we will discover.

We Begin in Egypt

Archaeologists found ancient Egyptians had early versions of braces on their teeth. Cord made from animal skin was attached to the teeth the same way we use modern braces. Archaeologists have suggested that as early as 1000 BC, different orthodontic apparatus were used to prevent teeth from collapsing in as part of a death ceremony. It’s incredible to think of not only how far braces and dentistry have come, but how even ancient civilizations prioritized their teeth.

The First Detailed Use of Braces

It was the Romans who recorded the first attempt to create braces as we know them now. Aulus Cornelius Celsus used his hand to manually apply pressure to straighten teeth. He was said to have some success with this. Archaeologists have even found old Roman burial sites with gold wire on what remains of the teeth. It wasn’t until 1700’s France that the first book on dentistry was written.

Pierre Fauchard and Pierre Bourdet wrote two books on dentistry between 1728 and 1757. Fauchaud wrote a chapter about orthodontics and different options to straighten teeth. He discussed the “bandeu” which was like a modern-day mouth guard and thought to prevent teeth from shifting.

Bourdet, was not only the dentist to the king of France but also wrote: “The Dentist’s Art” in 1757. This book remains an important piece of dental history. Bourdet improved upon Fauchaud’s mouth guard and also discovered they could extract wisdom teeth to avoid crowding. This is something still practiced by today’s dentists.

In 1819 Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented the first modern braces. These involved wires placed over the teeth like a cage. Dr. Edward Maynard added elastics to help jaw alignment in 1843. Teeth were removed to make room for this apparatus, and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that it became possible to have your teeth straightened without needing extractions.

Braces in the 20th Century

The 1900s saw a lot of changes and improvements to braces. Originally, the wires were wrapped around the teeth to hold everything in place, which was uncomfortable and inconvenient. Gold was very popular for braces, as was zinc and ivory.

In the 1970s, braces would undergo more positive changes. Rather than wrapping the wire around the teeth, dental adhesive was invented, braces now only needed to be attached to the front. This made braces far more comfortable, the process less damaging, and more time-efficient. Braces would eventually use colored wires or even more popular clear wires.

 A New Century for Braces

In 1997 Invisalign made the first appearance or lack of appearance more accurately. A Stanford University graduate created the clear plastic retainer. Zia Chishti did not have a dental background but figured out that rather than just keeping teeth in place, a clear retainer could also straighten teeth. Chishti worked with another graduate Kelsey Wirth and over the next few years, they would develop Invisalign. As of 2000, it was released and available to the masses.

From Mummies to Modern Day

While braces might seem like a fairly recent phenomenon, they have developed over thousands of years. Looking back over the journey braces and dentistry has taken, great minds in history have given us a lot to be thankful for, including the modern, less invasive options. Choosing braces today is more fun and painless process and it would probably impress the Egyptians how far we’ve come.




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