Some form of orthodontics has been around for hundreds of years in different societies but in the US specifically, teeth straightening methods have been being consistently improved upon since the beginning of the 1900s. Initially, precious, malleable metals like gold, platinum and silver were used to form thin, strong metal brackets that actually fit around the teeth individually and wire made out of the same was fastened between them in order to push and pull them into alignment. This was an extremely tedious and expensive process as well because the materials used to apply these oral appliances are still even still the most expensive known metals on the planet. It was not until the 1950s and 60s though that braces became somewhat popular, but ever since the 1970s when a functional adhesive was invented to attach the brackets to the front of patient’s teeth, they became much more common. Stainless steel was originally a controversial material for use in orthodontics until whatever unfounded concerns about its lack of durability were dis-proven.
In this day-in-age, the better someone looks and carries themselves with confidence, the better their lives are likely going to be. So many things are determined by the impression one gives and the energy they produce and those with a beaming smile have an advantage in this world. The desire for aesthetically pleasing teeth is not a new trend; archeological studies on the mummified remains of Ancient Egyptians show some form of metal fittings around teeth that were put there in an attempt to align them. Although these people were most likely concerned purely with the aesthetic appeal of their teeth, today we know that the problem of having misaligned teeth and/or jaws can create all kinds of health issues in one’s life that do not have a thing to do with appearances.
TMJ (temporomandibular syndrome) and tension headaches are caused by jaws not aligning correctly and putting uncomfortable pressure on muscles in the jaw. These issues can be compounded by teeth wearing down unevenly, especially if one grinds their teeth during their sleep. Straight jaws and teeth are also easier to clean and maintain which makes them more likely to stay healthy and remain in one’s mouth for the entirety of their lives. It has been proven that dental and gum disease are way less common among those who had braces applied during their childhood either because they are taught at an early age to take good care of their teeth or they are as a result of having braces just less likely to develop tooth decay. So, even if dealt with for aesthetic reasons, healthy and functional benefits occur as a side effect of getting the proper care from an orthodontist and are beneficial for the rest of one’s life.
The evolution of the brackets used on the front of the teeth with an interconnected system of wiring between them was a big step in the right direction for establishing fixed straight wire appliances (braces) as a proven and effective modern-day orthodontic method to correct misaligned bites and crooked or crowded teeth. What are called self-litigating brackets have been developed and patented since the 1930s, but not until 1972 was one manufactured that orthodontists liked and was produced for commercial use. These brackets were significant in the evolved history of braces because an orthodontist could easily open and close them during the frequent adjustment appointments that are required for a patient with braces.
Not much changed going into the 1980s and 90 except for some bracket innovations that included them being made out of materials other than stainless steel like ceramic braces and clear braces made out of transparent, hard plastic. The reason for these specific innovations was for those who wanted to straighten their teeth but wanted to obscure the presence of braces somehow. Ceramic and plastic do not stand out as much as metal does so many people today who have braces installed use one of these bracket alternatives instead of stainless steel. The drawback though is that stainless steel is preferred because of its durability and those who do not take care of their ceramic or clear braces often have to visit their orthodontist more for maintenance.
A lot of research and development dollars at the close of the 20th century went into the creation of Invisalign; the first teeth straightening method that did not require the use of metal. This method was introduced in the year 2000 and is responsible for changing the orthodontic landscape significantly through the culmination and advancement of several technologies. Not everyone is considered a good candidate for this method because everyone’s situation is different, but those who are consider themselves fortunate in most cases because it is an invisible way to go about correcting their smiles.