Braces and Beyond
Man’s quest for straight teeth dates as far back as history itself.
Egyptian mummies used crude metal bands (wrapped around their individual teeth) and catgut (a cord made from the natural fibers of an animal’s intestine) to close the gaps in between the teeth.
Archeologists have unearthed primitive orthodontic appliances with the Etruscan (early Romans) and Greek artifacts. The earliest records of teeth irregularities were written by Hippocrates around 400BC. It was a Roman writer named Aurelius Cornelius Celsus, who have first documented finger pressure as the treatment for bad bites or malocclusion.
Over decades, prehistoric metal bands and catguts have been replaced by precious metals like gold and silver. In 1959, stainless steel became the metal of choice for orthodontic appliances. Soon, Japan and the United States started developing lingual braces that are fixed hidden behind the teeth. In May 2000, Align Technology made Invisalign available to the public. Invisalign braces are removable clear aligners that have become a popular alternative to metal braces.
When should I see an orthodontist?
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s time to schedule a visit with an orthodontist once you recognize any of the following signs in yourself or your child:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Sucking the thumb or fingers, or other oral habits
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
- Speech difficulty
- Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don’t meet at all
- Facial imbalance or asymmetry (features out of proportion to the rest of the face)
- Grinding or clenching of teeth
- Inability to comfortably close lips
Correcting a bad bite creates a breathtaking smile. More importantly, this treatment aims to improve oral health. Crowded, crooked and misaligned teeth are difficult to clean. Plaque that is not removed in between ‘hard-to-reach’ areas after brushing or flossing can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. An improper bite can also interfere with speaking and chewing that can later lead to problems with the jaws.