Dental Braces - Through the years

Dental Braces

My sixteen year old daughter recently had braces fitted to correct the position of her teeth and to straighten them at the same time. After many visits to the orthodontist she is now the proud owner of braces with pink diamantes! (Her choice, not mine!) She will have to wear these for 18 months and have them tightened every 8 weeks. This prompted me to do a bit of research on the history of dental braces, so here goes...........................

The history of dental braces

It is thought that braces date back to around 2030 BC. Recent archaelogical digs have revealed that mummified bodies of the Ancient Romans were found to have metal wires around their teeth in an attempt to straighten them. Skeletons discovered from the Golden Age in Ancient Greece, around 300 BC, had devices on their teeth to prevent teeth falling out and to correct any deformities.

During the Medieval times between the 5th-15th century, selected barbers would perform dental procedures and extractions in their shops! No injections, sterile equipment or relaxing fish tanks for them! Pliers were used to whip out the offending tooth/teeth and there was no pain relief administered - Ouch! They also performed the process of blood-letting, which was to cut the patient to allow some blood out. The idea behind this was that by reducing the amount of blood, the blood pressure would drop and the patient would be able to recover quickly and maintain good health. I think I would have taken my chances rather than have a barber loose on my body!

Major breakthrough

Pierre Fauchard, a French genius dentist wrote a book which was published in 1728. He was way ahead of his time, not only was he a wonderful dentist who specialised in many aspects of dentistry, he also invented many instruments for extracting teeth and filling cavities. He came up with different methods of straightening teeth and spacing teeth to fill gaps.

Modern day braces
Modern day braces
Invisible braces are worn for a few weeks, then discarded. Each time a new set is fitted by the dentist, they are modified to straighten the teeth. New braces are fitted each few weeks until the teeth are straight.
Invisible braces are worn for a few weeks, then discarded. Each time a new set is fitted by the dentist, they are modified to straighten the teeth. New braces are fitted each few weeks until the teeth are straight.
 A model of an ancient brace contraption.
A model of an ancient brace contraption.

George Washington's teeth

In 1789, when George Washington was inaugurated as President of the United States of America, he had only one original tooth remaining, and the rest were made up of dentures. Before his dentures, he wore part dentures which were fastened by metal wires around the original teeth that were left. He was plagued by infections, abscesses and gum disease. The simplest things like eating and talking caused him a lot of discomfort and pain. He had a complete set of dentures made in 1798, the year before he died.

George Washington's teeth can be seen at the Dental Museum in Mount Vernon.
George Washington's teeth can be seen at the Dental Museum in Mount Vernon.

It was falsely thought and reported that his teeth were made out of wood, but, they were actually made of ivory.

Orthodontics

It wasn't until 1880 that the practice of Orthodontics came about. This is now a specialised field set up for the correction of many problems of spacing of the teeth and straightening. Thank goodness science has moved on and we don't have to wear any spring loaded contraptions nowadays.

Today orthodontics has come a long way, with many types of braces specialising in different conditions of the mouth and jaw. To make them more attractive, they can be adorned with diamantes, gems, designs and even clear or invisible braces. Yay for braces!

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Comments 15 comments

Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Jacqui, I remember wearing those braces as a kid ... but pink diamantes was definitely not an option for me back then! It was all about the pain, tightening, and having to put orange wax over the pieces of metal that stuck into my cheek.

Funny though, my first boyfriend had braces too, so your hub kinda brought back some fond memories too! (Oh - and my teeth turned out great)

Voted up :-)

Cloverleaf


tammyfrost profile image

tammyfrost 5 years ago from Oregon

My daughter wants braces but not sure how it all works. Thanks for the info.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Hi cloverleaf, I never had braces, but I remember my friends all had them and I was envious of them. Glad your teeth are fine, at least all the pain was worth it.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Hi tammyfrost. My daughter was referred to an orthodentist as she had a very slight overlap on two of her teeth. She went to see him for a couple of appointments and he fitted her braces. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Jacqui, I can remember my daughter (cloverleaf) wearing braces, she hated it at the time but her teeth are lovely now!

Many thanks for sharing and voting up.


felicitylovespari profile image

felicitylovespari 5 years ago

My sister had braces. I actually got veneers a few years ago. Of course I wish my parents had pushed me harder for braces when I was 13 or 14. Interesting history here. Wow on President Washington's teeth. I watched a documentary, 5 parts by HBO called John Adams and it had everyone with poor teeth which was the norm back then.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Movie Master - My daughter is exactly the same. She hates wearing the braces, but it will all be worth it in a years time when she will have perfect straight teeth. Thanks for the vote up.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

felicitylovesparis - Thanks for taking the time to read. It seems that bad teeth were very common. No matter how bad my teeth would have been, I don't think I would ever have gone to the barber!!!


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

My daughter had the invisible braces as she needed to push her teeth out rather than restrain them. At least she was 12 at the time. Her friend who has just had her 21st birthday sports a lovely pair of jewelled braces!


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Case1Worker - There are some really lovely glitzy braces out now. I even saw my friends son were a pair with little skulls on them! Makes a change from when I was a girl!! Many moons ago.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

Wow - I had NO idea braces were that old! Just wait until your daughter gets a retainer. My daughter chose a glow in the dark one -- I'm not actually sure who is looking at her palate in the middle of the night, though! I guess, it's the best way of getting through a bad situation.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ ktrapp - Glow in the dark retainer! They think of everything. There are some really cool ones out now from blingy ones to patterned ones - not like the train track ones that I remember. Thanks for reading.


MaryCola profile image

MaryCola 5 years ago from Georgia

How things have changed over the years. wonderful information.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ MaryCola - I'm so glad that braces have changed, some of the olden day contraptions look so painful to wear. Thanks for reading.


ryanjhoe profile image

ryanjhoe 3 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

Interesting article! Nice to know that braces can be an effective ways to straighten the teeth. Braces is indeed an amazing technology man ever made.

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