The Best and Worst of Braces Through Time

Smile Like an Egyptian

For an idea of what tooth straightening was all about in the days of the Pharoahs and their subjects, look to their mummies. Archaeologists, some of whom no doubt wore braces when they were children, discovered a familiar sight when they examined a number of mummified subjects – metal bands on their teeth! Upon closer look, it appeared the bands were connected by what they surmised was catgut pulled tight to bring the teeth into line. And you thought the Egyptians buried cats because they worshipped them!

Greco-Roman Practices

But the Egyptians weren’t the only ones entering the great beyond with straight teeth, the Etruscans one-upped them, burying women with bands of gold on their teeth to preserve their splendid alignment for all of eternity.

The first written word regarding tooth irregularities can be found in the works of the Greek Hippocrates dating back to the Fourth Century B.C., surmising how to best straighten misaligned teeth. However it wasn’t until 500 years later circa 97 AD Rome that Pliny the Elder actually prescribed filing uneven teeth to size. Fellow Roman writer Celsus came up with a much kinder, but no more effective approach, circa 400 AD, recommending nipping the problem in the bud by regularly pushing children’s teeth as they emerged from the gums.


Fashions from France

Fast forward to France of the 18th century where Pierre Fauchard, considered to be the Father of Dentistry, invented the bandeau, a straightening appliance fashioned from a horseshoe-shaped strip of metal that used regularly-spaced holes fitting around teeth to straighten their alignment.

And for a touch of tough love, the father of dentistry had an alternative method: using a type of forceps known as a pelican to realign teeth, after which he tied each one to its neighbor to hold it in place while it healed. Meanwhile, his fellow countryman, Christophe-Francois Delabarre was correcting tooth crowding by forcing wooden wedges or swelling threads into the spaces between overcrowded teeth. 

Sending Out A Brooklyn Cheer to an American Dentist Who had Good Ideas and Bad Ideas

In his book, A Brief History of the Smile, author Angus Trumble quotes 19th century American dentist, Eugene S Talbot, an early user of dental x-rays as saying that misaligned teeth were hereditary and those who had them were either “neurotics, idiots, degenerates, or lunatics.”

Ah Yes, the Internet!

If you think the horrors of tooth straightening and the best and worst of braces through time were behind you, you haven’t checked YouTube yet, have you? Appealing to those who can’t afford braces, YouTube users, as well as homeopathic sites, are dispensing misinformation and dangerous alternatives. And even worse, people are following it step by step, attempting to straighten their teeth with elastic string, or purchasing bogus plastic mold kits. In an attempt to dissuade those who would try, the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics has issued an alert, warning would-be self-orthodontists that these practices can result in lesions around the root of a tooth and even cause it to loosen and fall out. 

Here at Fair Lakes Family Dentistry in Cypress Texas, Dr. Nail will not issue bad appraisals of you, nor prescribe cruel treatments. Whether you have a smile that requires just a touch of straightening or a major reworking, rest assured that Dr. Nail can move them into perfect position.

Check our website for our office hours or call us at 281-973-2843 to schedule an appointment and find out about our orthodontic options for teens and adults including traditional braces and invisible Invisalign.