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If you currently have braces, or are on the verge of being fitted for them, you’ve joined an ages-old practice of orthodontics that dates back 50,000 years. Even before the invention of modern braces, civilizations had a fixation on straight teeth.

Before people understood the important health benefits of having straight teeth, orthodontic treatment was specifically for cosmetic purposes. Archeologists have found cords from the intestines of animals wrapped around the teeth of Egyptian mummies, similar in style to modern braces. The Etruscans (predecessors of the ancient Romans) inserted pure gold bands into the mouths of deceased women during burial rituals to preserve the teeth in the afterlife.

The ancient Romans invented a dental device similar in appearance and purpose to modern braces: gold wire used to attach brackets to the teeth. Other popular methods were tooth filing and using finger pressure at regular intervals to shift the teeth.

Dental impressions developed in the 18th century, first from wax and then from plaster. Soon after, Pierre Fauchard, considered the “Father of Dentistry,” created a horseshoe-shaped strip of metal (called a bandeau) that fit around the teeth to correct their alignment. Fauchard also tied neighboring teeth together to preserve their shape.

By the end of the 20th century, braces had evolved into stainless steel and brackets. Today, braces come in a variety of colors and shapes, and the process of getting braces is much more gentle and effective. Memphis Orthodontic Specialists, P.C. even offers Invisalign®, a transparent aligner, as an alternative to traditional braces.

If you’re in Memphis, Tennessee and are considering braces, contact Dr. Scott Werner at 901-767-5415 to learn your options. We want to help you achieve your best smile.