How Traditional Braces Have Changed Through the Years
Braces have come a long way since their debut back way back around 1000 BC. Though these primitive forms of braces were not highly effective nor aesthetically similar to today’s braces, they likely made just enough impact to justify the effort. Formal orthodontic braces were not developed until the 19th century. As time has progressed, braces have gradually improved, as evidenced by today’s Invisalign clear aligners. These translucent teeth-straightening aligners are comfortable, quite effective, and barely visible.
The Origins of Braces
Though few people know it, the ancient Greeks debated the merits of varying approaches to rectifying crooked teeth. In other words, straight teeth are not merely a concern limited to contemporary times. We are aware of the fact that orthodontics was available in ancient times as archaeologists have found mummies with bands along their teeth. However, such bands were used to preserve the teeth for life after death rather than to improve aesthetics while living. In particular, the Etruscans are famous for such bands.
Ancient cultures used different materials than those relied upon today for braces. Rather than adding metal brackets to the mouth, the ancients made use of cords comprised of catgut. Catgut is a strong fiber found in the intestines.
Braces in the 1700s and 1800s
Fast forward to the 1700s and formal dental research had commenced. Pierre Fauchard, widely considered to be the trailblazer for today’s orthodontics, created a blandeau or contraption that helped expand the interior of the mouth. Ettiene Bourdet built upon Fauchard’s work by developing methods to extract crowded teeth.
The transition to the 1800s brought about the use of various appliances ranging from wire cribs to rubbing tubing and gum elastics for improved dental aesthetics and health. Fast forward to 1880 and J.N. Farrar recommended the use of force at specific intervals to remedy wayward teeth. This revolutionary line of thinking significantly altered the approach to straightening crooked teeth.
Braces in the 1900s
At the start of the 1900s, braces looked quite different than those currently used in modern society. The orthodontists of the early 20th century used metal bands on the teeth, sometimes comprised of gold. Fast forward to the 50s and stainless steel was all the rage. However, it was not until the 1970s when braces no longer completely wrapped around the teeth.
The field of orthodontics has hit its stride in the past half-century, making considerable advances including the use of lingual braces along the interior of teeth. Furthermore, Invisalign translucent aligners have become quite popular for teeth-straightening and remedying spacing issues.
The 70s brought about the use of adhesives that secured dental brackets in position. These brackets were positioned atop dental adhesives that stuck directly to the teeth. The 70s were also highlighted by the implementation of stainless steel in orthodontic treatment along with elastic ligatures and tie wires that kept braces in position. Furthermore, this decade marks the first attempt at the use of translucent braces.
Modern-day braces are highlighted by the aforementioned Invisalign clear aligners. However, some patients opt for comparably traditional braces as opposed to the more expensive Invisalign aligners. Today’s orthodontists rely on nickel-titanium wires that are heat-activated for an ongoing yet gradual application of pressure to the teeth. This is quite the contrast to wires of a couple of decades ago that mandated ongoing tightening due to stretching. Modern-day wires last significantly longer, ultimately reducing the number of trips to the orthodontist’s office.
Though conventional braces have their merits, Invisalign is emerging as the more popular option. Invisalign aligners work their magic within 12-18 months, straightening and moving teeth into the proper positions within the mouth without pain or compromising patient aesthetics. These benefits have made Invisalign quite the popular choice amongst patients in all demographics. The “barely-there” yet highly effective Invisalign aligners are a stark contrast to the comparably ugly metal braces used in decades prior. Though Invisalign is slightly more expensive than conventional braces, it is worth the money as this approach works quicker, proves more comfortable, and looks much more pleasing to the eye.
Invisalign’s roots go back to 1997 when a Stanford University alum, Zia Chishti, brainstormed the idea. Chishti did not have any formal dental school training nor any medical industry experience yet he had the will to make the world a better place. Chishti was self-aware to the point that he knew when he failed to wear his retainer that his teeth would move back to their positions prior to when he used braces.
Chishti put the retainer back in and his teeth gradually shifted to the corrected positions. This phenomenon propelled Chishti along with another Stanford alum, who also lacked dental industry experience, to design Invisalign aligners with three-dimensional computer technology. Invisalign officially hit the market in 2000.
Modern Day Braces are not Perfect yet They are Getting There
Aside from the merits detailed above, modern-day braces are also revered for their aesthetic flexibility. It is now possible for braces to change color in accordance with the patient’s unique desires. The rubber bands used with today’s braces are available in an array of lively colors that can be altered in successive orthodontic appointments. Some patients even go as far as changing their braces’ color with each holiday, season, or other special occasion.
Today’s braces are also superior to those of yesteryear as they make it quite easy to floss the teeth. It is no longer necessary to use a threader. Rather, a specialized flosser can be used to clean beneath the wire and the teeth with surprising ease.
Silver Lake Orthodontics has Your Orthodontic Needs Covered
If your teeth are not perfectly straight or properly spaced, you are not alone. Our orthodontist has helped countless patients with similar challenges enjoy beautifully straight teeth. Give us a call today at (425) 448-7900 to learn more about our orthodontic clinic and services. If you prefer to schedule an appointment online, simply fill out our convenient online appointment request form.