Braces are a Popular Choice
Today, over 4 million Americans are wearing braces. That is certainly a lot of beautiful smiles in the making. Orthodontic treatment is a popular choice for kids and teens worldwide. Braces do a fantastic job correcting problems with tooth alignment and crowding, as well as addressing issues with a person’s bite.
Nearly 80% of the 4.8 million Americans wearing braces are children and teens. The average age for a child to get braces is between the ages of 9 and 14. According to statistics, 25% to 50% of children require orthodontic treatment at some point during their childhood.
In addition to being the best choice for correcting orthodontic issues, braces have a fascinating history. This article will spotlight some of the more interesting details and help educate you about some basic facts.
As far back as Egyptian times, evidence of dental treatment has been found on mummies. Metal bands were affixed to the teeth of the deceased, which helped preserve their teeth in the afterlife. People of that time used ‘catgut,’ which is a cord made from animal intestines to close gaps between the teeth. A Roman tomb in Egypt was found to contain teeth that were bound with gold wire.
In 400 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about different ways to move teeth. This shows that even in ancient times, people valued dental care. Luckily, there have been a lot of improvements since that time.
The First Set of Braces
The first orthodontic device was created in 1728. Pierre Fauchard, a French physician who is known as the “father of modern dentistry,” realized teeth could be straightened by applying gold wire fastened with waxed linen or silk threads.
That same year, Fauchard published a book entitled “The Surgeon Dentist” and dedicated an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth. In this book, he described an item called a ‘Blandeau,’ which was an early version of the palatal expander.
Interestingly, patients were advised eating a lot of grapes would keep the metal appliance from rusting; however, the acid in the grapes had the reverse effect, causing them to rust more quickly.
The History of Modern Braces
Around 200 years later, Edward Angle, who is regarded as the “father of modern orthodontics,” made significant advancements to improve upon Fauchard’s invention. In 1915, he created brackets that were also made of gold. 14- and 18-karat gold was originally used for brackets due to its malleable properties.
Many breakthroughs in technology were made in the 1970s. The use of stainless steel, new bonding agents, and new techniques created more comfortable braces. These braces worked well and were more affordable than their gold counterparts of the past.
Because of this, many people started to invest in orthodontic treatment around this time. This boon of interest in the 70s led to even more research into the technology of orthodontic treatment, which has given way to the scientific advances enjoyed today.
The Science Behind Braces
Dr. Angle’s invention was innovative, but braces made of solid gold were expensive and reserved for only the very rich.
A few decades later, NASA created the metal alloy that would later be used as the wire material in modern braces. In 1959, NASA created the metal alloy called nickel-titanium.
Originally intended for use on antennae and solar panels for their satellites, this metal was perfect for creating a flexible, thin wire that held its shape after being bent and attached to the patient’s teeth.
A cool feature of this wire, known as Nitinol (also dubbed ‘smart wire’ or ‘memory wire’), it that it has “shape memory” and super elasticity. This means, it can be bent without breaking and will return to its original shape at the right temperature. Nitinol responds positively to the heat of the human body when used as an archwire in orthodontics.
Orthodontist vs. Dentists
None of these great technological advancements would be available to kids and teens in need of treatment without orthodontists. Every orthodontist is a dentist, too, but not every dentist is an orthodontist.
Both orthodontists and dentists must obtain a bachelor’s degree, then attend 4 years of dental school. After completing dental school, either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is earned.
Dentists who want to become orthodontists require an additional 2-3 years of specialized training. This training requires a residency in orthodontics at a university affiliated program, which is approved by the American Dental Association. Dentists complete 8 years of higher education, while an orthodontist must complete 10 to 11 years.
Orthodontists treat many oral issues in addition to straightening teeth.
- Correcting malocclusions such as underbites, overbites, and crossbites
- Address issues due to overcrowded teeth
- Treat oral habits that affect teeth position
- Align teeth
- Close gaps in teeth
- Fix alignment issues with teeth and jaws
There are several reasons other than alignment of teeth to see an orthodontist for management of a child’s oral health care.
- Inability to close lips over teeth
- Difficulty with biting, speaking, or chewing
- Not having enough space in the mouth for teeth
- Manage the early loss of baby teeth
- Protruding teeth
Types of Orthodontic Treatment
Metal braces have been the standard of care for years when it comes to orthodontic care. If a child has crooked teeth, an overbite, underbite, or a crossbite, self-ligating metal braces can provide an excellent orthodontic outcome.
Ceramic braces are another popular choice to straighten teeth while enjoying reduced visibility of braces. These self-ligating brackets are made of ceramic, which may be clear or tooth colored. Ceramic braces straighten teeth equally well as metal braces but are less noticeable.
Damon braces are a specific brand of self-ligating braces. This means no ligatures or o-ties are required to secure the archwire to the brackets. Instead, the archwire is secured with a sliding door mechanism, which make adjustment appointments quicker and comfortable.
The GC brand self-ligating metal and ceramic braces most used by Burke & Redford Orthodontists have this state of the art and technologically advanced open and close mechanism to secure the archwire to the brackets. Like Damon braces, this brand allows teeth for quicker adjustment appointments that traditional bracket systems.
Invisalign is not braces. It is an advanced system of clear aligners custom fit to the patient’s teeth, which provide gentle force to straighten teeth over time. The aligner trays are exchanged for new ones every 1-to-2 weeks. By giving the patient several of these trays in advance, the number of appointments needed at the orthodontist is reduced.
No matter what type of orthodontic care your child needs, the well-known doctors in Southern California at Burke & Redford Orthodontists can provide a superior treatment outcome. Call our office at (951) 699-8011 to schedule a free orthodontic consultation with Dr. Ryan Redford.