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The History of Teeth Straightening

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

These past few years, teeth straightening has shot up in popularity. More people have been paying attention to their teeth, and rightfully so. In fact, more than 70% of the adult population in the U.S. have had teeth correction treatment or want treatment. 2Usmiles provides a very modern solution to this dilemma: at-home clear aligner treatment. It’s quick, effective, and revolutionizes smiles.

But enough about the present, let’s dig into the past. It may surprise you how early the concept of “braces” appeared in history.

The Very First

Can you believe that more than 5,000 years ago, there was someone just like us? Someone who strived to have beautiful straight teeth and a glowing smile? Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic. But it’s true. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of metal bands on the teeth of mummified ancient Egyptians. These metal bands would wrap around and through the teeth to secure them together (ouch). However, unlike today, these devices were not used while the person was alive, but rather to preserve the person’s appearance in the after-life.

Fun Fact: Egyptians crafted their metal braces from the dried guts of animals (catgut).

And of course, when we talk about mind-blowing inventions and ideas, we can’t leave ancient Greece and Rome out of the conversation. There are records showing that ancient Greeks used cords from natural fibers to straighten teeth as modern metal wires in a similar but more advanced method compared to the ancient Egyptians. Roman philosopher Aulus Cornelius Celsus was the first to document treatment of teeth, suggesting the idea that newly emerged teeth could be guided to their proper position with finger pressure (same concept as placing pressure using braces or clear aligners!).

The Past Three Centuries

While those are all cool dinner table facts, modern orthodontics truly began developing in the 18th century and flourished in the 20th century.

As wax teeth impressions became more widespread due to the brilliance of Philip Pfaff, the field of dental health started to grow. Teeth impressions allow dentists to make a model of the patient’s teeth structure, much like an impression kit! A few years later, Pierre Fauchard, known as the Father of Dentistry, was the first to invent a proper device to fix teeth misalignment. It was called a “blandeau”, and it was a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron that helped expand the mouth arch. The purpose was to nudge your teeth in a certain shape, carrying the same idea as modern-day braces. This is when teeth straightening really takes off. In 1819, a man named Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented a device called the wire crib; it took the form of a half circle and was placed directly on the teeth (sound familiar?).

Up until the 1970’s, braces were still wrapping around every tooth, which was not only inconvenient but very uncomfortable. Orthodontists soon discovered they could fasten the braces directly onto the teeth with one stainless steel wire that wove through all the brackets. In 1979, the alloy of nickel and titanium, nitinol, developed by the NASA, was first used on teeth straightening and its high efficacy led to widespread use on orthodontic patients. And you know what’s next...modern day braces!

Clear Aligners: The Modern Solution

From history, it’s easy to see that braces have been proven to be effective, but they come with a lot of shortcomings. Braces usually cause significant discomfort due to immense pressure on the teeth. They also require many visits to your dentists or orthodontists to adjust wires (so costly!). Furthermore, oral hygiene might become problematic, requiring additional dental work.

With all this in mind, numerous pioneers in orthodontics began exploring the world of plastics. In the 1990’s, modern clear aligners were developed, which solved many important shortcomings of braces. They were made of clear plastics and almost “invisible” to others. Due to the flexibility of plastics, patient experiences have greatly improved and a new field of orthodontics boomed.

What about 2Usmiles?

Thankfully, nowadays, you don’t need to weave metal wires through your teeth. Dental advancements have allowed for quick and effective treatment to achieve your own beautiful smile. If your teeth misalignments are mild to medium, you may want to try clear aligners through teledentistry (convenient and practical remote dental care). 2Usmiles offers this service at an affordable price for authentic results. To see if you’re a candidate, click here.

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