When you think of “fun,” braces may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, like any invention, braces have an interesting history that spans the ages. Even in just the last few decades, new developments in technology have changed orthodontic braces forever. Check out some of the most interesting facts about braces, and learn the truth behind some of the biggest myths about braces too!
5 Fun Facts About Braces
#1. Braces Go Back to 1728
The most notable individual regarding the creation of braces was Pierre Fauchard, author of “The Surgeon Dentist.” In this book, he dedicated an entire chapter to different methods for straightening teeth. Considered the “Father of Orthodontia,” he is typically credited with the invention of what we now consider modern braces.
His original designs were very different than modern braces, though they functioned in a similar way. They were made of a basic flat metal strip, connected with the use of thread. Bands were not invented for more than 100 years following Fauchard’s original design, with E.J Tucker’s concept of using rubber tubing to slowly move the jaw into alignment.
#2. Attempts to Straighten Teeth Started in Ancient Times
While Fauchard earned credit for the invention of braces, the concept of straightening teeth goes back centuries before his book. Archaeologists discovered that many mummies had unique devices in their mouths, wrapped around or lining the teeth. These devices appear very similar in design to the way modern orthodontists use orthodontic wire, and researchers agree that it’s likely they were used to try and reduce gaps between teeth or realign them.
#3. Cement Used in Modern Braces Sometimes is Designed to Release Fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that’s sometimes referred to as “nature’s cavity fighter.” It works by strengthening the enamel that protects your teeth, making them more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay. Many toothpastes include fluoride, and it’s often added to a city’s water supply.
As if braces weren’t helpful enough, sometimes the cement used to hold them in place is designed to release fluoride in your mouth. Because it’s so important to keep your teeth clean and healthy while going through orthodontic treatment, this extra boost of fluoride can go a long way to making sure you end up with a perfect smile.
#4. Modern Wires in Braces Were Developed by NASA
While modern braces take a lot of inspiration from their 18th century counterparts, early orthodontists never had access to the technology that modern ones do! Modern orthodontic braces use wires as part of the process for properly aligning teeth. If you have braces, you know that they require adjustments over time as you continue with the process. However, thanks to NASA, you don’t need nearly as many adjustments as patients did just a decade ago!
The specially-designed wires are made with nickel titanium, giving them unique shape memory properties. When introduced to heat, the wires will begin to revert to their original shape. The benefit of nickel titanium is that the heat of your mouth is enough to begin this reaction, helping bring your teeth into the correct position. In addition to less visits, this wiring can speed up your orthodontic treatment!
#5. Invisalign Wasn’t Designed by Orthodontists
Clear aligners offer many of the benefits of traditional braces, without the unappealing visuals that many teens may find embarrassing. While it’s no surprise that their popularity continues to grow, you probably don’t know that the two inventors of Invisalign had no orthodontic experience when they had the idea! While Zia Chishti had some experience with orthodontics by going through treatment in his adulthood, they conceptualized the idea using 3D software and computers with no formal dental training.
5 Debunked Myths About Braces
In addition to the interesting history and development, there are many myths surrounding braces. It’s important to know the facts about braces so that you don’t accidentally risk losing progress on your orthodontic treatment! Here are some of the most common myths:
#1. Braces Increase Your Chance of Being Struck by Lightning
There’s no evidence that supports this and it’s commonly perpetuated as a joke, but it does cause some children to be afraid of braces. Your chances of being struck by lightning are very low, especially if you stay safely indoors during a storm, and braces don’t increase that chance in any way.
#2. Braces Will Set Off Metal Detectors
Just like the lightning myth, this is based around the metal composition of braces. Fortunately for your flight, the amount of metal in braces is typically about an ounce. This isn’t enough to set off even the most sensitive of metal detectors.
#3. Retainers Aren’t Necessary After Your Braces Come Off
Many teens going through orthodontic treatment count down the days until their braces come off. But after they’re off, it’s critical to heed your orthodontist’s instructions and wear your retainer. Without it, your teeth may move back into their original position. Many patients end up needing to do another round of treatment with braces due to ignoring their treatment plan and not using their retainer!
#4. Braces Only Help Cosmetically
Braces are designed to help give you a perfect smile – but it’s not just for cosmetic purposes! When you need braces, it often means your bite is misaligned. Without correction, this can cause serious issues – it can even cause speech problems! Properly aligning your bite is one of the most important goals behind any orthodontic treatment.
#5. Braces Are Only for Kids
While it’s true that many patients in braces are children, adults undergo orthodontic treatment as well! In fact, of the millions of people wearing braces right now, about a quarter of them are adults! You may even be surprised to know that some celebrities wear them, even well into their 30s and 40s and beyond!
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