SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Braces have transformed through the years and date back longer than you might think.
Archaeologists have discovered ancient mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around each tooth. Around 400 to 500 B.C., Hippocrates and Aristotle pondered about ways to straighten teeth while fixing many dental problems, according to the Arch Wired website. People have strived for straight teeth for millennia.
“Different breakthroughs included the 1728 creation of a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal,” says the San Diego Orthodontist. “This supposedly helped widen the arch.”
In the early 1900s, orthodontists used materials such as gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber and vulcanite to create loops and ligatures. Wires and bands were made from 18-karat gold because gold is easy to shape.
Around the late 1960s, the Hyrax appliance was introduced. This expander consists of bands on the upper first premolars and first molars, which were connected by a steel bar. A hole sits in the middle of the bar. A turnkey is placed into the hole every night and pushed back to slowly widen the upper jaw. This is used in children’s orthodontics, because it is easier to widen the jaw of a patient whose bones haven’t yet fused together.
Bands were placed on the entirety of each tooth, and this type of braces continued until the mid-1970s when brackets were introduced. Brackets cover a small portion of the front or back surface of the tooth.
Self-ligating and lingual braces became a hit around the mid-1970s. Self-ligating brackets have a “trap door” that closes the archwire in without the use of elastic or metal ligatures. Lingual braces are brackets bonded to the back surface of the teeth. These became the “invisible” choice for many until the 1980s when aesthetic, tooth-colored brackets came out.
Invisible braces for teeth were taken to the next level when Invisalign was first made available to orthodontists in 1999. In 2000, the creator of Invisalign, Align Technology, launched its first U.S. national consumer campaign, according to the Align Technology website. This treatment proved to be a great asset to many orthodontists who were reaching out to the adult demographic.
Invisalign consists of custom-made aligners that are created for you and only you. These trays are smooth, comfortable and virtually invisible. Invisalign allows you to have the freedom to brush, floss, eat and drink without the worry of braces getting in the way because the trays are removable.
This treatment is available to teens as well. There are a few differences between the teen version and the original Invisalign. Invisalign Teen has the blue dot indicator- which fades when the aligners are worn for the appropriate length of time- extra aligners and the prevention of supra eruption for the second molars.
In 1998, a revolutionary digital technology was created to enhance orthodontic treatment. The SureSmile system creates a detailed 3D image of the patient. The entire treatment can be seen from beginning to end through this technology.
SureSmile archwires are customized for each patient and are bent robotically. Teeth don’t move faster; they move with more precision, according to the SureSmile website. Since 2004, this treatment has been used on more than 100,000 patients in the United States, Australia and Canada.
Orthodontic companies are always trying to develop more precise, high-tech methods of treatment. Braces have come a long way, and it doesn’t end here. The possibility of having a shorter treatment time, less discomfort and smaller, less visible brackets are within reach.
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