Skip to main content

Today’s braces and clear aligners are designed to be comfortable, efficient, and effective. But it may surprise you how long orthodontics has been around and how far it’s come! Do you know how and when orthodontics got started? (Hint: They date back to not long after King Tut!)

Here are 10 fun and historical facts about orthodontics.

Orthodontics Are MUCH Older Than You Think!

Did you know that orthodontics dates back to Ancient Egypt? It’s true! From as far back as  1000 B.C., mummies have been found with “braces” on their teeth, most placed there after death. (Check out this image from!) 

How would they do it? They would drill holes in the teeth. Ouch! Then, they would use gut from cats, sheep, and other animals to tie teeth to posts to keep them straight or move them into position. Bet you’re glad we have wires now!

The Word “Orthodontics” Comes From Ancient Greek

That’s right! “Ortho” means “straight” or “correct.” “Dont” means “teeth.” So “Orthodontics” literally means “to straighten teeth.”

Orthodontics Took Shape in 1700s France

The ancients may have started the practice, but we didn’t see a move toward modern braces until 18th century France. Pierre Fauchard wrote about a device in 1728 called a “bandeau,” which was a strip of metal (such as gold or silver) that was tied to the teeth to straighten them.

The Identifier of Crooked Teeth Properties? Angle!

That’s right. The dentist who identified the properties of “malocclusion” or misaligned teeth was named Angle. (Ironic, right?) Edward H. Angle is considered the father of modern orthodontics and the first orthodontist. 

Angle began the pioneering orthodontic treatment in 1900 of straightening those “angled” bites and teeth. (See what we did there?) He was the person who created the classifications of malocclusions that are still used in orthodontics today. He also identified the types, such as overbite, underbite, and crossbite.

1900s-Era Braces Were Mostly Gold 

Talk about blinging out your smile! In the early part of the 20th century, braces were mainly made of gold because the metal was more malleable (easier to shape). The upside is you looked pretty darn cool. The downside — you had to be pretty darn wealthy. Gold braces cost a pretty penny back then.

Stainless Steel Brought Braces to Everyone

Gold and silver were used for braces until the 1960s when stainless steel was introduced. But the material didn’t take hold until the mid-1970s when dentists and orthodontists worldwide began adopting it. Stainless steel proved to be much less costly than gold and silver, which meant more people could afford braces. Since then, it’s been the go-to choice for traditional metal braces.

Braces Weren’t Glued Until the 1970s

Early braces, like the ancient ones, were wrapped around the tooth. Later, bands were placed entirely around each tooth and connected by wires. But in the 1970s, dental adhesive was invented, which allowed smaller brackets to be glued directly to the tooth. 

This invention brought about the creation of lingual braces (which are placed on the inside of the teeth) and more modern brackets for the outside of the teeth. That meant braces could be smaller but just as efficient as their predecessors. They’ve been getting better and better ever since!

It’s All About Pressure and Time

So how exactly do they do it? Just as we said — pressure and time. It’s the steady pressure over days, weeks, and months that slowly move the teeth to their proper positions.

Teeth Move Because Bone Breaks Down

That’s right. The pressure causes the bone in your jaw to break down, allowing the tooth to move. But don’t worry! New bone is formed right behind it, so once the teeth are in place, the new bone hardens around them and keeps them there.

We’ve Come a Long Way!

Today’s braces are SO much better than where they began. Fergus Orthodontics offers orthodontic treatment options that are low visibility, high efficiency, incredibly effective, and don’t require drilling holes in your teeth! Today’s orthodontics include low-visibility options such as clear braces or Invisalign clear aligners. Our options are also more affordable, thanks to our 0% interest in-house financing and flexible payment plans. 

So do you want to learn even more about orthodontics and whether our modern options are right for you? If you’re in the Jonesboro, AR, area, just give us a call or start online with a virtual consultation. We’ll set you up for a no-obligation evaluation and help you figure out what’s best for you!

Design, video, photo, and branding by Clear Partnering Group.