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A Brief History Of Braces

CAN YOU IMAGINE an Ancient Egyptian in braces? Are you picturing an appliance made out of metal bands and catgut? That’s right; the practice of straightening misaligned teeth has been around since ancient times! So how did we get from there to the braces of today?

Ancient Orthodontics

Evidence suggests that those braces made of catgut and metal bands were likely only used as part of a burial ritual, to make sure the dead person’s teeth looked nice for the afterlife. Similar burial rituals were performed in Ancient Greece and by the Etruscans.

The first time braces were used to straighten the teeth of the living was in Ancient Rome, around 400 BC. 400 years later, Aulus Cornelius Celcus theorized that teeth could be guided into place by applying hand pressure in the right direction as they grow in, but modern orthodontic research doesn’t support this.

Braces And The Industrial Revolution

Not much changed in orthodontics until the 18th century, when Pierre Fauchard created the first known modern braces. His invention, the bandeau, was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal with holes throughout it, held in place by silk threads. He also tried tying teeth together in an effort to get them to stay put while they healed. Christophe-François Delabarre tried separating crowded teeth by putting wooden wedges between each tooth. Yikes!

The Emergence Of Modern Day Braces

In 1822, J.S. Gunnell invented occipital anchorage (the first form of headgear), but the man considered to be the father of modern orthodontics was Edward Hartley Angle. Angle formally identified different types of malocclusions (bad bites) and developed appliances to correct them beginning in 1880.

Through all these developments, early orthodontists were still limited by technology. They didn’t have bonding agents that could allow front-mounted brackets like in today’s braces, so moving teeth required wrapping metal completely around each tooth. That all changed when dental adhesive hit the scene, and the development of stainless steel in the ’70s also made braces more affordable because they no longer had to be made out of silver or gold.

Finally, invisible aligners hit the scene in the late ’90s.

Why Straight Teeth?

TO SOME, IT MIGHT seem like the benefits of having straight teeth are purely cosmetic. And those benefits certainly do exist. Studies have shown that people tend to perceive someone with straight teeth as wealthier, happier, and more dateable than someone with crooked teeth. But there are plenty of other important benefits as well.

Consequences Of Crooked Teeth

There are many different ways crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person’s health and quality of life. Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones.

Difficult To Clean

When teeth overlap each other in ways they aren’t meant to, they can be much harder to clean with brushing and flossing than straight teeth. If teeth aren’t getting cleaned as effectively, then they become more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Impede Clear Speech

Underbites, severe overbites, and other teeth alignment problems can interfere with a person’s ability to speak clearly, leading to lisps and other distortions in articulation.

Interfere With Healthy Digestion

Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process. Our saliva begins to break food down on a chemical level while our teeth break it apart into more manageable pieces. Crooked teeth can make it difficult or even impossible to chew food enough, which forces the rest of the digestive system to pick up the slack. This can lead to a number of unpleasant GI consequences, and it can even make it harder to lose weight!

Can Interfere With Healthy Breathing

If your teeth don’t fit comfortably together, you might keep them apart instead of closing your jaws when resting. This can lead to mouth breathing, which has many negative health effects. The two most connected to oral health concerns are chronic bad breath and dry mouth.

Can Cause Jaw Problems

If there’s something wrong with your bite, that can result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndromeSymptoms include a clicking jaw joint, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.

Do Your Teeth Need Straightening?

Having straight teeth eliminates or greatly reduces all of these problems. This, paired with the cosmetic advantages and the boost in confidence, makes orthodontic treatment a very worthwhile investment. If you think you could benefit from orthodontic treatment, schedule an initial consultation with us so that we can find out what will be best for your smile. In the meantime, keep brushing, flossing, and scheduling your regular dental appointments!

You deserve the best for your teeth!

Impress Your Friends With Dental Trivia

MOST PEOPLE OUTSIDE of teeth-related professions probably only think about their teeth when something’s wrong, like when there’s something stuck between them in the middle of a date, they’re sore from a toothache, or they’re stained after drinking coffee or juice. That’s why we thought our patients would appreciate an opportunity to think about teeth in a more fun and interesting context. So get ready, because it’s time for some dental trivia!

You Probably Didn’t Know…

These are seven of our favorite pieces of dental trivia! How many of them did you already know? If you know any cool dental facts we didn’t include in our list, feel free to share them in the comments!

  1. A Lifetime Of Brushing: If you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, that means you’re spending a whole day brushing your teeth for every year of your life! Keep up the great work!
  2. First Impressions: After your eyes, your smile is what people notice most about you, so make sure you’re taking care of it!
  3. Teeth Tattoos: It is possible to tattoo your teeth, though technically the tattoo is on a cap or crown that covers the tooth, not the tooth itself. (We probably wouldn’t recommend this one!)
  4. Super-healing: The mouth heals faster from injuries (like a bitten cheek or burned tongue) than any other part of the body. This is because of the ample blood supply, the simplicity of the tissues in the cheeks, tongue, and gums, and the healing properties of saliva.
  5. Congenitally Missing Teeth: Most of us will have 20 baby teeth and between 28 and 32 adult teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth we have) in our lifetime, but for 3-8 percent of the population, some of those teeth might never develop at all!
  6. Baby Teeth: One in about 2,000 babies are born with at least one tooth already erupted! These are called natal teeth (or neonatal if they erupt within the first month).
  7. Ice Age Dental Fillings: Archaeologists have discovered evidence of crude dental fillings in teeth from 13,000 years ago in northern Italy!

Keep Taking Care Of Those Teeth!

There are plenty of weird and fascinating things we can learn about teeth, but if you ever notice anything about your own teeth that strikes you as unusual, go see your dentist. It’s always better to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and your teeth will thank you for doing so earlier rather than later.

Remember to keep brushing and flossing!

Making Malocclusions Bite The Dust

A MALOCCLUSION OCCURS when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly, which can lead to a variety of problems. These bad bites can impact our speech, our digestion (by making it difficult to chew our food), contribute to TMJ syndrome, and even put our teeth in danger of breaking.

Causes Of Malocclusions

Malocclusions are often genetic. You might inherit different sized jaws that don’t fit together easily, or you might inherit teeth that are the wrong size for your jaws. Malocclusions can also be caused by injuries or bad oral habits during developmental years. These include thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, lip-sucking, mouth-breathing, nail-biting, and teeth-clenching.

Parents can help their children have healthier bites as they grow up by discouraging these habits. If the malocclusion is the result of one of the above mentioned bad habits, breaking that habit will be a crucial part of ensuring the malocclusion doesn’t return (but don’t worry; we can help with that).

Common Malocclusion Types

In a correct bite, the upper front teeth come slightly over the lower front teeth, and the points of each molar fit in the grooves of their counterparts in the upper or lower jaw. There are quite a few ways a person’s teeth can veer away from this healthy ideal, but we’ll just cover five of them here.

  • Excessive overbite: the upper teeth overlap or overjet the lower teeth far more than in a healthy bite
  • Underbite: the lower teeth overlap or partially cover the upper teeth
  • Crossbite: some of the upper teeth bite down on the inside of the lower teeth
  • Deep bite: an overbite so severe that the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, sometimes driving the lower teeth into the gums behind the upper teeth when biting down
  • Open bite: the front upper and lower teeth do not make any contact with each other when biting down

Orthodontics And Bite Correction

These and other types of malocclusions can be corrected with orthodontics. That sentence might conjure up mental images of bulky headgear or extensive oral surgery, but don’t worry. While surgery and headgear may still be necessary in severe cases, bite correction is typically much more low profile and hassle-free today than it was in decades past. And, of course, the result of orthodontic treatment is a healthy and beautiful aligned smile!

Let’s Take A Look At Those Teeth!

Schedule a consultation with us today so that we can make sure everything looks good with your bite and make a plan to correct any alignment problems. We look forward to giving you the healthy bite you deserve!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!