Who would have thought there was ancient orthodontic roots beginning with the Egyptians thousands of years ago? Well, it is true because archaeological findings have discovered metal bands around the base of the teeth of mummified remains that tell us that they made efforts to straighten their teeth the same way that we did until technology advanced to the point that more pragmatic and practical methods were available.
People who had braces from the early 1900s until the middle of the century were subjected to the same kinds of methods that ancient Egyptians were by having metal bands fashioned around the base of their teeth in order to create surface area to attach anchor mechanisms to so teeth could be moved or spaced out appropriately. It was not until the 1970s that stainless steel became the metal of choice that orthodontists used in conjunction with dental adhesive and self-litigating brackets in order for the orthodontics field to make long-awaited leap forward.
Many different designs for brackets were patented between the 1930s and the 1970s but it was not until the dental adhesive formula was perfected that many of the brackets were able to be applied in a practical way that made braces more convenient for orthodontists to install and for patients to wear. Brackets are not just constructed out of stainless steel. They in fact are made out of hard, transparent plastic and ceramic as well and can be applied using the same dental adhesive that is used for the traditional stainless steel brackets.
The field of orthodontics is a dental specialty that requires extra training and schooling beyond dental school where aspiring orthodontists learn about malocclusions and how to treat them using fixed wire appliances (braces) mainly. A malocclusion when the upper and lower jaw do not come together properly. One can have more than one malocclusion and depending on how severe it is, it could actually require maxillofacial surgery if one’s jaw forms in a problematic way. Usually though, braces can correct most malocclusions and crooked or crowded teeth without surgery being required and sometimes the help of retainers and spacers can help the bones in one’s mouth form properly and encourage teeth to form in an aligned fashion.
Orthodontists attend school for an extra two to four years after dental school in order to become experts in this dental specialty. Here, they learn about and practice teeth straightening methods and they document them closely so they can present six individual cases to the American Board of Orthodontists (ABO) at the end of their orthodontic residency. If the board likes what they hear and the orthodontist is effectively able to defend their clinical decisions properly, they then move onto the written exam and become officially board-certified.
Braces are the most effective and economical way to correct just about any malocclusion, so this is the main focus of the orthodontic training and education that one receives during their orthodontic residency. There are very subtle and important nuances about alternative brackets that are made out of plastic and ceramic that orthodontists learn about and gain an understanding of how popular they are among adult orthodontic patients. Transparent plastic and ceramic braces are great for adults who want a discrete teeth-straightening method; however these materials are not as strong as stainless steel and could require extra maintenance as a sacrifice for making the process more inconspicuous.
The most inconspicuous way to go about straightening one’s teeth though is a recent advent called Invisalign. Invisalign is a method that uses advances in digital computer imaging and 3-D printing in order to create a series of clear, plastic ‘aligners’ that form almost exactly to the teeth of the patient so they are almost completely undetectable. Not everyone is a perfect candidate for this process but those who are and want to be more comfortable with the appearance of their smile often decide to use this method to achieve results. Just about anyone who can get the results they want without other people being able to see (like with braces) decides to receive the Invisalign treatment.
When perfection is the ultimate goal or the upper and lower jaw need to be aligned for one or more health reasons, braces are the best solution. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of unique situations that make their treatment highly individualized and because so many different aspects of this process need to be taken into consideration, including the desires and opinion of the patient, one of many different approaches and outcomes are possible.