On the Brief History of Orthodontic Treatments


If you’re the patient in the chair, getting your teeth straightened can seem like a form of medieval torture. Wires and pliers and the whirr of drills? You might not believe it, but orthodontic treatments have come a long way since they began, and your classic metal braces are a genuine upgrade!

Curious about who the first person was to look at their buck teeth and think “I can do something about that?” Read on to learn about the evolution of straightening teeth and different types of braces through history.

Braces in Antiquity?

There is no way to know who the first orthodontist might have been, but we are fairly certain that they lived during classical antiquity. We have discovered bodies from nearly every ancient civilization with metal wires wrapped around their teeth. The belief is that these early braces were not to straighten teeth in life but to prevent them from falling out after death.

Ancient Egyptians might have been the first to figure out that orthodontic treatment could straighten teeth. Due to their burial practices, we have evidence of metal bands used to apply pressure to teeth, much like modern braces do.

17th and 18th Century Europe

As technology improved, so did the practice of orthodontia. Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann and Phillip Pfaff took the earliest wax impressions of the human mouth. The first palate expanding device might have also been invented around this time.

It may have been a royal surgeon who gets the credit for helping orthodontics to become the field it is today. Etiene Bourdet, a surgeon to the French king, was the first to extract teeth as a response to crowding. Over time, practitioners used wedges and threads to maintain space in the mouth.

19th Century America

J.S. Gunnell created the occipital anchorage device in 1822, which may be the first form of headgear used in orthodontics. It was a device that helped practitioners transition toward modern braces.

America’s largest addition to the field was through education. It became the home of both the first dental school and the first orthodontic training program. By training practitioners in best practices, we were able to establish a safe and appropriate standard for the treatment of orthodontic problems.

It was the discovery of the x-ray in the late 19th century that ensured that orthodontics would continue to improve. It made all orthodontic work more accurate and taught professionals even more about the mouth and jaw.

Orthodontic Treatments Today

Now, aren’t you glad you’re receiving orthodontic treatments today rather than in Ancient Egypt? Thanks to modern technology, the dental community has come a long way and can transform your smile with relative ease. The best orthodontist can help you feel great without anyone noticing you’re receiving treatment at all!

Now that we got that straight, more posts around here can bring out your stunning smile! Check out the rest of the blog for more thought-provoking posts for inquiring minds!