Do Mummies Wear Braces? A Brief Historyof Orthodontics
B races are a part of many people’s lives. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t wear braces in high school, and it’s likely you have a friend or sibling who spent a few years with metal strapped to their teeth. People have been striving for a perfect smile for a long time. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that many ancient civilizations used some form of braces.
that’s because historians believe the bandeau was actually a torture device. Fortunately, Christophe-François Delabarre came along in 1819 to invent the wire crib, which signaled the beginning of modern orthodontics.
Braces changed rapidly over the next hundred years as dentists learned more about teeth. For a long time, most braces were made of gold, platinum, silver, or gum rubber, though some orthodontists relied on ivory, brass, and even wood. Stainless steel didn’t become the norm until the 1950s. Then, in the 1970s, with the introduction of dental adhesives, orthodontists no longer needed to wrap wires around each individual tooth, and braces as we know them came to be. Today, traditional metal braces have been joined by ceramic braces, lingual braces, and plastic aligners like Invisalign. Patients have plenty of options in their search for the perfect smile!
Several ancient Egyptian mummies have been discovered with bands of catgut wrapped around their teeth, and across the Mediterranean, the Etruscans often buried their dead with gold bands around their pearly whites. These braces were part of burial rituals, meant to keep a person’s teeth in place after they died. Though philosophers of the time, including Hippocrates and Aristotle, wrote about methods for straightening teeth while patients were still alive, braces didn’t really get their start until after the Dark Ages. In 1728, French dentist Pierre Fauchard published “The Surgeon Dentist.” One of the treatments was the bandeau, a horseshoe- shaped piece of metal that could expand the arch of a patient’s mouth. If this sounds painful,
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