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A Brief History of Orthodontic Brackets & Wires

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It’s hard to believe that orthodontic tooth movement was first described by the “Father of Modern Dentistry” Pierre Fauchard 290 years ago, in the early 1700s. Fauchard used a system of “files to make space between [irregular teeth], forceps to loosen the teeth, and wires to hold the teeth in their new position until firm.” That must have been interesting looking and pretty uncomfortable. I wonder exactly who received this treatment and if they went into hiding until it was over! I also recently read that mummified skeletons have been found by archeologists with “crudely-fashioned metal attachments on each tooth,” that both Hippocrates and Aristotle were “contemplating” methods to straighten teeth in 400-500 BC, and remains were found in a Roman tomb located in Egypt that had gold-wire bound teeth, and are perhaps the first use of ligature wire ever documented.

All that notwithstanding, orthodontic brackets have certainly come a long way since I was wearing them a few decades ago. Back then, they were attached to what I’d call “full-coverage bands”: clunky cement-filled silver bands that completely surrounded the tooth. Wow, those were ugly, and painful! Today’s brackets can be made from metal, or tooth colored or clear materials, accessorized with colorful ties and rubber bands, and even affixed on the lingual side of teeth (which blows my mind!).

Of course brackets are just the means to support the arch wires, which do all the hard work. Arch wires also come in a variety of materials, and are available in braided, flat, and half-round styles. These are changed frequently throughout treatment, from thinner more flexible wires to heavier wires that will cause greater movement during the process. If you’re looking for tried and true or any of the new brackets and arch wires available, visit the DPS category page.

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