Blog Post

The Early History of Orthodontic Treatment
Posted on 07/01/2016

The Early History of Orthodontic Treatment


As you get older, your pediatric dentist might recommend that you make an appointment with a local orthodontist to help you straighten your teeth or jaw.

Braces are a common remedy for such problems. And combined with the care of your local Amarillo pediatric dentist, you will be primed for a lifetime of healthy beautiful smiles. But what are the origins of braces? How long have they been around and who invented them?

The truth is, curious minds have been improving the field of orthodontics since 400 B.C., beginning in Ancient Egypt.


Over the years archaeologists have found the mummified remains of many different cultures affirming the early practice of orthodontic treatment. For example, in Egypt mummies have been discovered with bands and cords wrapped around their teeth (which researchers believe demonstrates an early attempt at closing gaps between teeth).

These cords the Egyptians used are made from animal intestines called “catgut” and run along the mummies’ teeth in the same pattern that the archwire of modern braces do.


blog2_071516.jpgMore examples of ancient attempts at orthodontics can be found all over the globe. In Rome, for instance, remains of teeth bound with gold wire (documented as “ligature wire”—a small elastic wire that affixes brackets to archwire) have been uncovered.

Additionally, texts from the famous Roman philosopher Aulus Cornelius Celsus describe the first recorded orthodontic treatment of applying finger pressure to teeth to move them slowly. Not exactly today’s braces, but a sign of forward thinking nonetheless.


In the 18th Century orthodontics took its first great leap forward, becoming more practiced science than theory. French dentist Pierre Fauchard published his book on teeth-straightening methods “The Surgical Dentist” in 1728, thus crediting him with the invention of modern orthodontics.

One method he became well known for was the utilization of a device called the “Bandeau.” This tool was a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron that Fauchard used to help expand the oral arch of his orthodontic patients and, ergo, help straighten their teeth.

Later that same century another French dentist by the name of Louis Bourdet (official dentist to the king of France) wrote a follow-up to Fauchard’s book called: “The Dentist’s Art.” Bourdet built on Fauchard’s techniques by perfecting the Bandeau. Furthermore, Bourdet became the first dental professional to recommend extracting a patient’s premolar teeth in order to improve jaw growth and prevent teeth from crowding each other.

Then & Now

In the centuries since Fauchard and Bourdet, orthodontists have come a long way. To find out what orthodontist your local pediatric dentist (Dr. Metcalf) recommends, and when he recommends your child see an orthodontist, contact us today. Whether you’re from right here in Amarillo, or one of our neighboring communities, we are always happy to help you smile brighter!