A Quick History of Orthodontics

While you may think braces are a modern invention, the fact is people have been using devices to move their teeth since the early days.

Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.

As far back as 500 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle were both talking about ways to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.

However, despite all the evidence from early times, it was around the 1700s before the most significant developments began to happen in orthodontics.

In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth. He used a horseshoe-shaped metal device to help expand the arch.

While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not really begin as a science in its own right until the mid-1800s.

Norman W. Kingsley wrote the first article on orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to suggest the use of mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.

In the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised the first simple classification system for malocclusions, which is still used today as a way for dentists to describe how teeth fit together.

In the early 20th century, gold, platinum and silver were routinely used in braces and the bands wrapped entirely around the each tooth. They continued to wrap around the teeth until the mid 1970s, when direct bonding became possible.

In the 1070s, systems were developed to place braces on the inside surfaces of the teeth – lingual or invisible braces.

In the future, it seems likely that braces will be smaller, less visible, more comfortable and will be needed for much shorter periods of time.

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Common Questions About Braces

Here are the answers to some common questions about what it like to have braces

What is it like having braces?,
When you have braces, you will probably find your mouth sore for a few days. It can also be uncomfortable when the braces are tightened. However, most of the time you probably won’t even notice them.

Do braces hurt?
It can depend on which type you choose but usually modern braces will not hurt except for the first few days or when they are tightened.

While the manufacturers are always looking for ways to make them more comfortable, a little discomfort at the beginning is still common. You will be able to take some painkillers if necessary. The pain may be greater if you start orthodontic treatment when you are an adult.

Will it be embarrassing to wear braces?
Over 70% of teenagers wear braces and therefore most people have some experience of them so there is no need to feel embarrassed. If you start treatment when you are an adult, the proportion of people wearing braces is lower but you will still find most people supportive.

Will braces cause sores in my mouth?
Sometimes you might experience sores on your lips in the first few days. These can easily be rinsed in water or special solution and will usually heal within a week or so. You can also put wax on the braces to prevent the braces from rubbing and irritating the sore.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?
It varies a lot depending on exactly what changes need to happen in your mouth. When started young it may last a few months. From the age of 12, it can take a year or two and perhaps more for adults. However it depends very much on your personal situation and your orthodontists will be able to advise you.

What are Braces and How do They Work?

Braces are devices which are used to straighten teeth, correct bite problems and fix irregular teeth.

They are made of three basic parts:
– Brackets
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire

The bonding is used to fix the brackets to the teeth.

The arch wire goes through the brackets and is held in place with small rubber bands.

The brackets and arch wire work together to move the teeth into new positions to straighten the teeth.

The arch wire works by putting pressure on the brackets to help move the teeth into the desired new position.

When pressure is applied to your teeth like this, they loosen slightly from the gums. Bone grows in to support the tooth in its new position but this takes time so the process needs to be done slowly.

That’s why you may have to wear braces for about two years and adjustments are only made every few weeks.

The arch wires work because they want to keep their original shape and will exert a great deal of pressure to do this. It is the combination of this aim of the arch wire and the person’s body heat that puts pressure on the teeth.

Braces are not always enough on their own to complete the task so the orthodontist may also use rubber bands or other devices to help pull the teeth in the correct direction.

After you have finished with the braces, you may need to wear a Retainer for a few months to hold the teeth in position until the bone has fully grown into place.

Overcoming Problems with Braces

Most people get used to braces quickly and wear them for as long as they need to with no problems.

However, occasional problems can arise and taking the right steps enables you to resolve them quickly.

Here are some examples of problems that may arise.

Allergic Reaction: Some people can have an allergic reaction to the elastic or the metal used in braces. Alternative materials can normally be used so it is important to let your orthodontist know of any allergies.

Mouth Sores: There may be irritation due to some parts of the braces. This is more commons in the early stages but there are many products available such as oral rinses and dental wax that help heal sores quickly.

Build Up of Plaque: It is important to keep up your regular oral care routine of brushing and flossing to prevent food building up around braces as this can lead to build up of plaque which can cause tooth decay and bad breath.

Damaged Braces: Braces can be damaged if not cared for properly. Certain hard or sticky foods can cause damage as can mouth injuries when playing sports. If damage occurs frequently, it can mean the treatment takes longer.

Arch Wire Movement: If the arch wire becomes displaced, it can cause irritation and mouth ulcers. Dental wax helps but it is usually best to have the damage fixed by an orthodontist.

Discomfort: Pain and discomfort may occur after first installation and also after any adjustments but these usually pass quickly.

Adult Braces and Self esteem

A lot of effort is made to help teenagers feel better about having braces.

However as around 70% of teenagers need braces, it’s a very common experience.

Yet adults can also need braces and it is less common amongst their peers so adults often have more issues about what other people think of them when they go to work and to social events with braces.

Feedback suggests many men feel a bit geeky with braces while women often feel unattractive.

Of course, some adults don’t care what other people think but many do.

The fact is the braces may seem like a big deal for you, especially at first because they are in your mouth. However, most other people barely notice or may just mention it in passing.

Many adults wore braces as kids or have kids who are in braces.

They are likely to be sympathetic and may even admire you for taking action to improve your appearance.

Several high profile actors and musicians have also worn braces as adults and this makes it much easier.

Of course, you may need to be prepared to answer questions – especially when some people meet you for the first time. So you may need a plan for dealing with certain events such as important business meetings.

Common Questions About Braces

Here are the answers to some common questions about what it like to have braces

What is it like having braces?,
When you have braces, you will probably find your mouth sore for a few days. It can also be uncomfortable when the braces are tightened. However, most of the time you probably won’t even notice them.

Do braces hurt?
It can depend on which type you choose but usually modern braces will not hurt except for the first few days or when they are tightened.

While the manufacturers are always looking for ways to make them more comfortable, a little discomfort at the beginning is still common. You will be able to take some painkillers if necessary. The pain may be greater if you start orthodontic treatment when you are an adult.

Will it be embarrassing to wear braces?
Over 70% of teenagers wear braces and therefore most people have some experience of them so there is no need to feel embarrassed. If you start treatment when you are an adult, the proportion of people wearing braces is lower but you will still find most people supportive.

Will braces cause sores in my mouth?
Sometimes you might experience sores on your lips in the first few days. These can easily be rinsed in water or special solution and will usually heal within a week or so. You can also put wax on the braces to prevent the braces from rubbing and irritating the sore.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?
It varies a lot depending on exactly what changes need to happen in your mouth. When started young it may last a few months. From the age of 12, it can take a year or two and perhaps more for adults. However it depends very much on your personal situation and your orthodontists will be able to advise you.

What are Braces and How do They Work?

Braces are devices which are used to straighten teeth, correct bite problems and fix irregular teeth.

They are made of three basic parts:
– Brackets
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire

The bonding is used to fix the brackets to the teeth.

The arch wire goes through the brackets and is held in place with small rubber bands.

The brackets and arch wire work together to move the teeth into new positions to straighten the teeth.

The arch wire works by putting pressure on the brackets to help move the teeth into the desired new position.

When pressure is applied to your teeth like this, they loosen slightly from the gums. Bone grows in to support the tooth in its new position but this takes time so the process needs to be done slowly.

That’s why you may have to wear braces for about two years and adjustments are only made every few weeks.

The arch wires work because they want to keep their original shape and will exert a great deal of pressure to do this. It is the combination of this aim of the arch wire and the person’s body heat that puts pressure on the teeth.

Braces are not always enough on their own to complete the task so the orthodontist may also use rubber bands or other devices to help pull the teeth in the correct direction.

After you have finished with the braces, you may need to wear a Retainer for a few months to hold the teeth in position until the bone has fully grown into place.