A Brief History of Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on correcting irregularities in the teeth and jaws. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to help patients achieve a healthy and functional bite and improve the aesthetics of their teeth. Orthodontics has had many centuries to develop and has come an incredibly long way over that time.

Ancient Dental History

The dental knowledge that makes modern orthodontics so effective has roots in ancient history. Our earliest known record of attempts to straighten teeth dates back to ancient Greece and the philosopher Hippocrates. This is the same Hippocrates from whose work the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians is derived. He wrote about tooth ailments and speculated about ways to correct them. 

During the Roman Empire, the practice of dentistry took a more scientific approach. A Roman physician named Aulus Cornelius Celsus described teeth alignment in his medical texts, highlighting the use of finger pressure to move teeth into their proper position. Unfortunately, with the fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent decline in scientific advancements, orthodontics entered a period of stagnation for many centuries.

Orthodontics as a distinct dental specialty began to take shape in the 18th century with French physicians like Pierre Dionis and Pierre Fauchard. Fauchard is sometimes credited as the father of modern dentistry. Further progressing their work and bringing it into modernity was Joseph Fox, who published The Natural History and Diseases of the Human Teeth. Four chapters of the book were particular to the emerging field of orthodontics.

Birth of Modern Orthodontics

In the 19th century, orthodontics began to advance, thanks to Edward Hartley Angle, an American dentist. He revolutionized malocclusion classification and developed the first standardized system for diagnosing and treating dental misalignments. Angle also invented various orthodontic appliances, including the “edgewise” appliance, which is still used today.

Over the following century, orthodontics steadily continued to evolve and improve. Later years saw the introduction of bracket systems that utilized adhesives to attach brackets to the teeth. This technique helped to simplify the process and enhance patient comfort. Modern orthodontics technology and understanding have given us invisible aligners, such as Invisalign. These aligners provide a more aesthetically pleasing and convenient orthodontic treatment option.

Orthodontics has become an advanced and specialized field of dentistry. Advanced imaging technology, such as cone-beam computed tomography, enables orthodontists to diagnose conditions accurately and plan appropriate treatments. The accuracy of this imaging technology gives orthodontists more freedom to individualize care to meet their patients’ needs. Traditional bracket-and-wire braces have also undergone significant advancements, allowing for more efficient and comfortable tooth movement.

Visit the Orthodontist Florence KY Trusts

Supported by a history of orthodontics dating back thousands of years, your Florence, KY, orthodontic team at Orthodontic Specialists is equipped to help you achieve a straight, healthy smile. Thanks to the pioneering work of figures like Dionis and Angle, the field of orthodontics has grown to become highly accurate and effective. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your treatment options.