Ever wondered about the evolution of braces and how far we have come? When you think of braces, what immediately comes to mind? Brackets and metal wires on your teeth, right? That is today’s version of braces, but did you know that different versions of braces and teeth straightening have been around since ancient times? Throughout history, the evolution of braces was continually changing. People have been trying to maintain oral health and a straighter smile for centuries. There have been discoveries that have been made that show just exactly how people in ancient times tried to fix their smiles.

Ancient Times

Methods for straightening teeth have been known to date back to ancient Greece and Rome, according to scholars and historians. Between 400 and 300 B.C. is when Aristotle and Hippocrates first thought about fixing smiles and various dental conditions. Etruscans buried their dead with appliances that maintained spaces and prevented the collapse of their teeth and jaws. In a Roman tomb, archaeologists discovered a dental device that bound teeth in wire and documentation on how to use it. Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains in various locations where the dead were found with the metal bands or catgut wrapped around their teeth. This method was used to close gaps in the teeth. 

18th Century: France

What we know as Orthodontics truly began developing in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pierre Fauchard was a French dentist in 1728 and was acknowledged as the father of modern dentistry. He published a book that described different methods on how to straighten teeth and used a device that was used to widen the upper palate inside a mouth. 

Another french man, Louis Bourdet, was also a dentist who published a book. In 1754, he published a book that discussed tooth alignment. He is reported to be the first dentist to extract bicuspids to reduce tooth crowding and improve jaw growth. 

19th Century

Orthodontics was more defined in this century as a separate dental specialty. Joachim Lafoulon first used the term “orthodontia” in 1841. Even though in the previous centuries, teeth straightening and pulling were being done, the science of orthodontics did not exist until the mid 19th century. Over this time, several dentists helped to advance braces with new tools and instruments. 

In 1819, the beginning of modern orthodontics was marked by the first wire crib. Also, around 1819, materials like precious metals, steel, gum rubber, and vulcanite were used to create loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures. Occasionally wood, ivory, zinc, and copper were used to straighten teeth. In 1843, Edward Maynard was the first to use gum elastics, and E.J. Tucker was the first to use rubber bands in braces in 1850. Lastly, Norman W. Kingsley published the first paper on modern orthodontics in 1858, and J.N. Farrar was the first to recommend that dentists use force over timed intervals to straighten people’s teeth. 

20th Century

Edward Angle kicked off the start of the 20th century by developing the first simple classification system for malocclusions. Malocclusion is the imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed. This system is still in use today, and dentists use it to describe how crooked teeth are, which way they point, and how the teeth fit together. He also founded the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901, which was later renamed the American Association of Orthodontists in the 1930s. 

Before the 1970s, braces were wrapped around the teeth, and since then, braces have directly adhered to the teeth. Also, lingual braces were being used; these adhered to the back of teeth. 


Looking at braces today, it is incredible to see just how far we have come from the ancient times. Today we use technologies such as 3d digital models and computers to customize treatments. Metal braces were the most common device used throughout the centuries, but more recently, Invisalign has become incredibly popular. 

We hope you loved learning about the evolution of braces. If you have any questions about possibly straightening your teeth, please let us know! If you’d like to learn more about braces or Invisalign, schedule a consultation today on our Smiles Orthodontics website!