A Very Brief History of Braces

You wouldn’t believe what you, your son/daughter, and an ancient mummy have in common. It’s Braces. Researchers have found mummified remains in Egypt from 400-500 B.C. sporting teeth wrapped in gold wire, proof that orthodontics has been around for a very long time.

Since those very first braces, orthodontic patients have asked the same two questions: “When am I getting my braces on?” and “When am I getting my braces off?” The answers to those questions have changed dramatically in the last few years due to advances made in orthodontics. Clearly, these are not your mummies, or your mommy’s braces anymore.

Orthodontics got its start in France in the 1700’s, but it wasn’t until the 1900’s that modern orthodontics really started to take shape. The aptly named “father of American orthodontics”, Dr. Edward H. Angle, created the classification system of bites that is still used today. Angle also organized the American Society of Orthodontia, which became the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) in the 1930’s.

In the 1970’s the world of braces began to expand. Orthodontists could now bond brackets right onto a tooth, far more comfortable than the previous method of putting a band around each tooth, and secure the wire to the bracket with colored ties. Wires got a makeover, too. New metals, like nickel, titanium and copper, gave wires shape-memory and made them more flexible.

The 1990’s saw significant advances with the advent of passive, self-ligating (PSL) brackets like the Damon system. The wires were now able to move freely, rather than being held in place by restrictive elastics. The PSL brackets moved teeth faster with less pain, less force, and virtually eliminated the need for extractions and expanders. They also made treatment more convenient. Instead of a monthly visit to the orthodontist, patients only needed adjustments every eight to ten weeks. PSL braces, like Damon, had another benefit that became obvious over time, those passive, gentle forces had the ability to make faces more symmetrical and pleasing. Patients reported that they were sleeping better because their PSL braces were opening their airway. The only problem was that braces still looked like braces.

In Beverly Hills, an idea from the ‘70’s resurfaced – lingual braces. Braces could be placed on the inside of the teeth. A choice that proved, even in braces, it’s all about location, location, location.

Orthodontics revved up when robotically engineered wires and custom brackets were developed, such as Insignia and SureSmile for braces on the outside, or Harmony and Incognito for lingual. Treatment became far more efficient, but still there wasn’t anything specifically made to speed up treatment. An advance in osteoporosis research provided the turbo boost brace wearers had been looking for since the beginning. AcceleDent® uses micropulses to speed up tooth movement AND may make treatment more comfortable. With AcceleDent, a patient’s orthodontic treatment can be sped by up to 50% just by using a small, lightweight device for 20 minutes a day! Finally, a simple solution to make the treatment go by faster.

What’s next for braces? More options to allow orthodontists to marry form, function and beauty with treatments that are quicker, more comfortable and can improve your health and well-being. Look for the latest in orthodontic developments, coming soon, to a beautiful smile near you!

Dr. Richard Bach, East End Orthodontics

Dr. Richard Bach has been living and practicing in the Hampton Beach area of New York for over 25 years. Dr. Bach is proud of the part he’s played in the smiles on his patients’ faces in the East End. Dr. Bach’s dedication to his field and his patients shows in his continued learning of new and advanced techniques, as well as his role as a teacher to orthodontists and dentists across the country. Dr. Bach is a member of American Association of Orthodontists and American Dental Association.