Though various devices have been used to straighten teeth since the days of the Ancients Greeks and Romans, it was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that orthodontics began to develop as separate science.
There is no one person who is universally seen as “The Father of Orthodontics” but several have a claim to the title.
One claim goes as far back as, 1728 when the French surgeon Pierre Fauchard published his book “The Surgeon Dentist”, which included a whole chapter on ways to straighten teeth.
This certainly gave orthodontics a huge push forward – although that term was actually coined in 1841 by Joachim Lafoulon.
But the science was not really put on the map until more than 100 years later.
First, dentist and writer Norman W. Kingsley wrote the first article on orthodontics in 1858 and published his book “Treatise on Oral Deformities” in 1880.
Another major step forward was when dentist J. N. Farrar wrote “A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections”.
Farrar was also very good at designing brace appliances and was the first to suggest using mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.
In the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised a classification system for malocclusions which is still used today.
This system was a way for dentists to describe how crooked teeth were and how they fitted together.
Angle contributed significantly to the design of orthodontic appliances and founded the first college of orthodontics in 1901.
Gradually the field of orthodontics became a respected dental specialty in its own right.
You may think the desire for straight teeth is a feature of our modern image-conscious society.
But there is evidence going back hundreds of years of devices being used to straighten teeth.
Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.
And Roman tombs also revealed evidence of teeth being bound with gold wire.
Around 500BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both talked about how to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.
Nevertheless, it was much later that significant progress was made 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.
Scottish surgeon John Hunter wrote “The Natural History of the Human Teeth” in 1771, which described dental anatomy in clear detail and came up with terms in use today such as cuspids, incisors and molars.
While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not exist as a separate science until the mid-1800s.
The introduction of the wire crib in 1819 is seen as marking the birth of contemporary orthodontics although the term orthodontia was actually coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841.
In the late 1800s, Eugene Solomon Talbot was believed to be the first person to suggest using X-rays for orthodontic diagnosis.
But the real advancements in orthodontics came in the late 19th and 20th Centuries.
Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who can fix problem with bad bite, crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.
One of the main benefits orthodontic treatment is cosmetic – you get a great smile that makes you look and feel better.
But there are real health benefits of orthodontic treatment too:
You will be able to chew your food easier: Chewing is an important part of digestion. Having crooked teeth means you don’t chew your food properly and could end up with indigestion and other stomach problems.
You will have fewer dental problems: As crooked teeth are hard to clean, you could have more cavities and gum disease than people who have had orthodontic treatment. When your teeth are crooked there is extra stress on your teeth, gums and jaw which can lead to problems later on.
You have less risk of breathing problems: The roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose leading to breathing problems and snoring. Orthodontic treatment can reduce this possibility.
Some recent research suggests a link between oral bacteria and cardiovascular disease, where calcium in your mouth is dissolved and deposited in your arteries.
Orthodontics helps prevent oral infections which may have a direct effect on heart disease.
Orthodontics not only gives you a great smile, it can lead to a healthier, happier and longer life.
Take a look in the mirror and smile. Do you like what you see?
Your smile is one of the things people notice most about you so it’s one of your most important features.
Would you feel better if you had a more appealing smile?
Well it may be possible.
Orthodontic treatment can improve your smile.
But more than that it can improve your health too.
One of the most common treatments used in orthodontics is braces.
If you are a parent, braces can be one of your best investments in your children’s future.
It’s a great way of improving their lifetime health and happiness.
Research shows that people who have had braces look better and feel better about themselves.
They even live longer and have a statistically lower risk of heart disease.
But braces are not only for kids.
Around 20% of orthodontic patients are over 18 and people in their 60s, 70s 80s and even older have had successful orthodontic treatment.
It could make a big difference to your life at any age.
Think about how a better smile could improve your life or those of your children.
Orthodontists use dental braces to help move your teeth into a better position in your mouth so that they look and function better.
There are now many different types of braces available.Here are some of the main types.
Traditional braces are where brackets are chemically bonded to each tooth.
The brackets may be metal or ceramic. Wire is run through the brackets to move the teeth.
Ligatures are then used to keep the wire in place.
Traditional braces are still one of the most recommended options by orthodontist and are very effective in moving teeth.
Self Ligating braces do not use ligatures and they are best known by the brand Damon Braces.
These braces can have a quicker treatment time and require fewer visits to your orthodontist.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces but the brackets go on the back of the tooth.
These are used when the cosmetic appearance is important.
Invisible braces have become very popular under the Invisalign brand because of their cosmetic benefits.
Patients are given plastic trays called aligners to move the teeth and these are swapped out about every 2 weeks.
The best choice for you will depend on your dental needs and personal preferences.
Your dentist or orthodontist will advise you on the best option for you.
A top concern about braces for both adults and teenagers is whether they will still be able to kiss.
The short answer is that it depends on what type of braces you get.
With old fashioned clunky braces, it is sometimes uncomfortable to kiss.
However most orthodontic manufacturers now make smaller braces which make kissing comfortable.
Of course, a lot also depends on your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend.
As two out of three teenagers wear braces at some time, it’s an issue most of them get used to.
While it’s less common for adults, most realize how important orthodontics is, and will support you in improving your smile and your health.
There are a few tips to make kissing easier:
Wait a bit: Wait about a month after getting braces to make sure any initial soreness has gone.
Take it easy: Start off very gently
Despite what many people think, orthodontic treatment is not only for children.
Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who bring the teeth, jaw bones and facial profile into proper alignment.
They can therefore give you a better smile and improve your dental health.
It’s never too late to correct problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, bite problems, incorrect jaw position, or jaw-joint disorders.
The biological process involved in moving teeth is the same at any age.
However treatment for adults can take a little longer than for a child.
As an adult’s facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be accomplished with braces alone and sometimes surgery is required.
However, whatever your age, it’s never too late to improve your dental health and make your smile more beautiful.