The History of Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment can improve the appearance of your smile and your bite, as well as boost your oral health. It also can help prevent the onset of problems like tooth decay and gum disease.


According to the American Association of Orthodontists, kids should receive their first orthodontic evaluation at age 7 or when they have enough permanent teeth in their mouths. This will allow us to find out if your child has any issues that need to be addressed before they get worse.

Early 20th Century

The early 20th century was a time of great change for orthodontics. It is the century in which orthodontists were first able to create classifications of malocclusion and begin to establish their practice as a separate dental specialty.

This period also saw the beginning of X-rays, which were used to diagnose the condition of teeth before they could be straightened. This was a huge improvement over what orthodontists were able to do in the past.

Early orthodontics relied on a variety of techniques, devices, and materials to straighten teeth. The most common methods were bands, ligatures, and wires. These were typically made from gold, silver, platinum, steel, vulcanite or gum rubber, and sometimes wood.

In addition to these devices, early orthodontics was mainly focused on correcting jaw growth and alleviating crowding in the mouth. This was done by removing the premolars, or front teeth, to make space for the rest of the teeth to grow.

These methods were effective and helped to improve the health of many people, but they were also painful and uncomfortable. To ease patients’ discomfort, orthodontists started to use self-ligating braces that eliminated the need for elastics and metal ties.

As a result, more children and adults sought out treatment. Orthodontics was an important part of dental practices, and orthodontists promoted their services heavily to attract new patients.

The early 1900s saw the invention of stainless steel braces, which were more comfortable than their predecessors and less likely to damage the teeth. They also improved the aesthetics of braces, reducing the amount of wires and elastics that were visible on the teeth.

Another innovation in the early 20th century was the introduction of latex sheets or “dental dams” to keep the teeth dry during procedures. This prevented the bacteria that eat away at tooth enamel from forming.

These innovations paved the way for more modern appliances, including clear plastic removable aligners, which are still used today. This technology allowed orthodontists to straighten teeth more quickly and easily than ever before.

The late 19th century was a time when orthodontics began to be defined as a science, with the term “orthodontia” coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841. This period also saw orthodontists create their first wire crib, develop rubber bands, and begin to x-ray their patients’ teeth. This is when they became able to pinpoint their problem areas more clearly, which led to faster treatment times and less pain for their patients.

Edward Angle

Angle, the inventor of the first twin-wire orthodontic appliance and the first orthodontist to specialize in this field, made an influential contribution to the development of the profession. He established the first educational program to train specialists in orthodontics and he developed the first prefabricated orthodontic appliance system.

In his letter to his mother in 1880, he described himself as “a neophyte whose innate genius for mechanical design and invention has brought him much success.” As a young man, he displayed an early aptitude for working with tools and machinery. A year-long apprenticeship with a local dentist in Towanda, Pennsylvania, shaped his career.

When he graduated from dental school in 1876, he began to develop an interest in orthodontia and became very interested in the treatment of malocclusion. He was determined to find a way to treat these teeth that did not involve braces, wires or brackets.

He started tinkering with tooth-regulating appliances and was soon developing a variety of new appliances that allowed teeth to move in all three planes of space. He patented 46 different patents.

Eventually, he was able to obtain faculty employment at the Dental Department of the Minnesota Hospital College in Minneapolis. There he taught his classes on comparative anatomy and orthodontia while continuing his dental private practice.

At this time he also had a second marriage with Florence Canning, the sister of John E. Canning, a machinist in Minneapolis whom he came to know socially.

This relationship proved to be vitally important in the development of his dental practice. The two men worked together and often exchanged ideas.

After his ill-fated sheep ranching venture was crushed by the Great Blizzard of 1882, he returned to his studies and refocused his interests in orthodontia. His new knowledge led him to develop the first classification of malocclusion, a key step in the development of orthodontics as a clinical specialty.

He was a keen observer of the natural world, particularly trees and flowers. He was a collector of ethnographic and archeological objects, including many valuable items that were donated to museums in his lifetime. He was a passionate writer and had an extensive library. His favorite books were those of Mark Twain, poet-storyteller James Whitcomb Riley, George Catlin and Benjamin Franklin.

Twin-Wire Appliances

During orthodontic treatment, we often use appliances to help move the teeth into a more favorable position. However, these devices are only one part of the entire treatment plan; your bite should also be aligned properly so that you can smile with confidence and have a healthy mouth.

When your jaws are not in alignment, they can cause a range of problems with your bite. These problems can make chewing, talking, and eating difficult or uncomfortable. Fortunately, orthodontics can address these issues as well by using devices called functional appliances.

These devices harness natural forces such as muscle activity and growth to reposition your jaws. In many cases, they can reduce the amount of time you need to wear braces, or even eliminate the need for them entirely.

The Activator appliance is an example of a functional appliance used to treat malocclusions (bite problems). It uses metal bands to hold the back teeth in place and a curved wire that spans across the palate to connect the bands. This allows the band and wire to exert pressure on the front and back of the teeth, shifting them efficiently.

This type of appliance is most often used for patients who are young and whose bones have not yet completed growth. It can be used to correct a number of common malocclusions, including overbites and overjets.

It is made in two pieces instead of one; this makes it less bulky and more comfortable for some patients. Like the Bionator, the top half of the twin block is held to the upper teeth by flexible wires, while the bottom half is held to the lower teeth by a similar method.

In addition to being less bulky than the Bionator, the twin block appliance is more versatile in that it can be adjusted as your treatment progresses. It can be worn alone or with your traditional braces.

The twin-wire appliance was developed in 1929 by Dr. Joseph Johnson. It was based on the theory that two light wires would work more physiologically than a single heavy wire. This technique had a number of limitations, however; it could not be used in extraction cases, and it was uncomfortable to wear.


Braces are a great way to straighten your smile, improve your bite and decrease the amount of time you spend at the dentist. A well-designed orthodontic treatment can also help you avoid future dental and health problems.

A typical set of braces includes brackets, archwires and elastic bands. Each part plays a different role in moving your teeth, but all work together to move them into their correct positions.

The brackets are affixed to your teeth with a special bonding agent. They are usually made of metal, but ceramic and plastic are available too.

When the brackets are bonded on, wires are threaded through them and connected to the front of each tooth. The wires are called archwires and are typically stainless steel or tooth coloured ceramic.

Some archwires are temperature-sensitive and bend when they’re cold, but stiffen up when they’re heated. This makes them easier to thread between the brackets, which allows the orthodontist to move your teeth faster and more easily.

Sometimes, orthodontists also use coil springs to apply pressure on your teeth. They work by applying pressure between two teeth, pushing them apart and adding space.

These are typically used only for a short period of time, but can be a useful tool in some cases. If you have a deep bite, they may be placed between your molars to help push them forward and make more room for your braces.

Your orthodontist might also put in small rubber bands, called O-rings or ligatures, to hold your braces in place. They’re a good way to keep the wires from falling out, but they can be uncomfortable.

There are also other types of braces that don’t include a rubber band and are self-ligating. They come in a wide range of colours and can be made from stainless steel, nickel titanium or copper titanium.

Depending on your orthodontist’s advice, you might also need to wear headgear during certain activities or sports. This is to protect your teeth and mouth from injury and also make it easier to get used to wearing braces.