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History of Orthodontics

Hiya Hi-5 kids (and parents)!

Hi 5 Orthodontics coming atcha with a brief and fun history of orthodontics and braces!

While straightening your teeth may sound like a new thing to you, did you know the history of orthodontics dates back to ancient times in Greece and Rome?! Even famous philosophers like Aristotle and Hippocrates talked about the idea of “straightening teeth.” Throwing the idea of straightening teeth around has gone as far back as 300 BC.

Archaeologists show proof that Etruscans (Ancient Italy) maintained spaces and gaps between teeth to prevent teeth from collapsing. They even buried their dead wearing them! In a Roman tomb, dental devices have been discovered along with “how-to-use” documentation. Why dead people needed to know how to use braces, we really can’t say!


In the 18th Century – wayyyyyy back in 1700, a French Dentist, Pierre Fauchard, wrote a book on methods for straightening teeth. He is considered the father of modern dentistry. He used a device called the “bandeau” to widen people’s upper palate. Still today, we use technology to widen palates when necessary.



It wasn’t until the 19th century (the 1800s) that Orthodontics was defined as its own specialty class within the dental industry. In 1819, the first “wire-crib” was used in orthodontics (no, it’s not a wire crib used to prevent babies from escaping, though they probably had something along these lines as well). This mouth-crib was made of precious metals, steel, gum and vulcanite (rubber and sulfur heated to hot-lava levels) to create loops, hooks and spurs to straighten teeth. The first elastics were used in 1843 and finally rubber bands were used for braces in 1850.

In the 1960s, REAL gold was the material of choice used for brackets in braces. While we wish we used real gold today, this is just impossible because it would make braces sooooo much more expensive.

Until the 1970s, braces were physically wrapped around the teeth… YOUCH! If you think braces sound painful already, imagine us wrapping them around each of your teeth… or don’t imagine it, because it just sound too painful! After the mid-70s, orthodontists began to adhere brackets directly to the teeth. Lingual braces (braces attached to the back of teeth) were also often used during these times.


Orthodontics has come giant leaps and bounds over the last 20 years. Now, we have digital x-rays and 3D dental imaging that makes it oh-so-easy to get a detailed look at the structure of your mouth and to plan the changes we need to make in order to give you the best and straightest smile ever!

Making the actual braces has gotten much easier as well. Taking impressions of your teeth has become much more accurate, thus reducing fit-issues that were apparent with braces of the past.

Robotic (COOL) wire-bending technology is now used in combination with digital scanners! This allows more precision in the positioning of your brackets and wires.


There are many options for different types of braces used today. Though braces on the front of your teeth is still the most often selected option, there are lingual braces (braces on the inside of your teeth) and Invisalign (virtually invisible braces) used as well.

Metal Braces – Metal braces are permanently adhered to the front of your teeth. These can only be taken off by an orthodontist (well, rarely one can pop off if you’re chewing something super-sticky and accidentally come unglued, but that’s a story for another time).

With metal braces, there are some restrictions when it comes to the foods you can eat. You may wear these for 3+ years depending on how much straightening needs to take place.

Invisalign – These are clear plastic (virtually invisible aligners) that can be easily removed yourself. They can be removed to eat, to brush and to floss your teeth.

With Invisalign, you’ll likely need a new set every two weeks until your teeth shift into proper alignment, so unless you want to see us this often, you’ll probably want to stick with front-facing metal braces.

Lingual Braces – Lingual braces are attached to the back of your teeth, making them hardly visible to others. They’re a little harder for us to adjust and can cause some funny speech-difficulties when you’re getting used to them. Think of it like this – your tongue has of new and fun things to play with in your mouth, so you could sound funny (like a mouthful of marbles) for a while.

With Lingual braces, you need to take extra care of your oral hygiene since it’s obviously harder to get back there and clean the backs of your teeth than it is to clean the fronts.


A straighter smile can really change your life for the better. A straighter smile encourages more self-confidence, makes for easier and better oral-hygiene practices, and gives you a beautiful smile for the rest of your life (if you promise to wear your mouth-guard while playing sports and your night-guard to keep your teeth in position during the night).

Every kiddo’s situation is different, so at Hi-5 Ortho, we take time to sit down and go over all your options as well as going over restrictions and recommendations for braces. We want to create the best treatment-plan for your specific and personal needs. As you’ve been told, “every child is different,” and their mouths should be treated in this way.

Centennial Trail Spokane - Credit: Seattle Times


Haven’t decided whether braces are the right thing for you? Maybe you’re a bit scared or unsure or worried about being called “brace-face” or whatnot? At Hi-5 Orthodontics, we want to be by your side every step of the way and walk you through the process and options. Call us today to set up your initial consultation for braces! We’re excited to get you smiling to the fullest!