The Wonderful World of Braces: From Catgut to Invisalign

The Wonderful World of Braces: From Catgut to Invisalign

Braces technology has come a long way since the earliest efforts to re-align teeth. The one thing that hasn't changed is that it takes time to move teeth around. No quick fix.

Although braces are sometimes thought of as a cosmetic procedure to give a more aesthetically pleasing smile, they can also prevent periodontal problems, teeth wear and even tooth loss.

Most people have orthodotic treatment in their teenage years, once the permanent teeth have come in. But, if like me, you screamed and refused to have a mouth full 'o metal, there is still the option to have braces as an adult.

Catgut Braces & Other Ancient Methods

  • Your dentist probably does not offer these now. But even the ancient Egyptions may have been aiming for a similar goal by wrapping lengths of catgut cord (made from animal intestines) around and along teeth to close gaps.
  • Roman documents describe a technique of applying finger pressure to the teeth at regular intervals and gradually moving teeth this way.
  • Finally, gold wire has been found in the mouths of some Roman's when tombs are excavated. It is surmised that it was a form of ligature wire to which the arch wires between each tooth would be attached.

Modern Metallic Braces

  • Various forms of wiring, wrapping, banding and elastics were used over the centuries as various techniques were tried out and developed. Jumping forward to the 1970's, the next big leap came when dental adhesive was used to attach the new stainless steel dental brackets to the teeth.
  • This meant no more wrapping the teeth and precision improved as stainless steel is flexible and easy to manipulate.
  • However, the visual effect of all that gleaming metal contributed to increasing self-consciousness, especially for teenagers. So much research commenced on how to make them less visible. Or otherwise to make them look a little prettier - thus many variations on colours and clear types resulted.
  • Plus there are versions which go behind the teeth called lingual braces. However, these can cost a lot more.

Invisalign Braces

  • It wasn't until the 1990's that invisible braces were perfected when the clear plastic retainers used to keep teeth in place after treatment were developed into a system whereby they alone could be used instead of fixed braces. Invisalign was born.
  • Advances in computer technology allowed images to be taken of patients' teeth and a sequence of stages calculated, with a set of retainers made for each stage to align the teeth gradually.
  • No adhesives, no metal, no wires to tighten. Plus they are almost invisible, cause less irritation, and can be removed easily to enable thorough cleaning and flossing.
  • Costwise they are also comparable now to traditional styles.
  • Drawback? They must be taken out to eat or drink. Discipline is needed to ensure you keep them in between meals. And care is necessary to ensure the dog does not chew them up as they have been known to be mistaken for a tasty morsel..
  • Read more here and don't hesitate to call or email the office if you'd like a free consultation.

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