Dental Braces - Through the years
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!
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.
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.
It was falsely thought and reported that his teeth were made out of wood, but, they were actually made of ivory.
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!