Egyptian Mummies had Braces: It is Relevant Even now – I

Our Fashionista Shameena tells us about the history, importance and the type of dental braces, in the first part of her four-part research article. She traces the antiquity of the braces to the ancient Egyptian culture, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” This sentiment could not be truer!

Imagine how different your life would be if smiling, eating, or speaking caused you pain, discomfort, or even embarrassment. Thankfully, we live in a world where anyone can obtain the smile they deserve!

The Importance of Braces

The health benefits of braces are abundant and help explain the importance of braces. Crooked, misplaced, and crowded teeth make cleaning much more difficult, thus causing an enormous risk of tooth decay – which is not only unsightly and painful but also affects the overall health of the rest of your body as well. In some cases, though, a person with what would be considered “straight” teeth may have been told they are a candidate for braces because of their bite. This isn’t something to be taken lightly or ignored – an overbite, underbite, or other jaw misalignments can not only become incredibly painful later in life, but they can also affect wear and tear on your teeth. Of course, abnormal wear and tear can cause a tooth to be cracked, can wear away at the enamel, and cause a number of life-long problems to face. With all of these facts added up, the time spent with braces is very minimal compared to a lifetime of dental problems.

There are times when braces are used for vanity’s sake, and that’s okay! A confident smile can make a world of difference in one’s life and can affect job performance, social interaction, and much more. It is proven that lack of confidence can have a very strong negative effect on someone’s life, and no one should feel the need to hide behind their smile. Patients of all ages can obtain the look they want, and with so many new options available, there is no reason not to speak to your dentist about which option suits you best. You deserve the best smile possible! 

History of Braces

Orthodontics might seem like the most modern branch of dentistry, but the ‘perfect smile’ has been a project since Ancient Egypt. Through varied devices and techniques, orthodontics gradually developed to become the sophisticated practice it is today.

Poorly aligned teeth and jaws have always affected our ability to chew and speak; it isn’t surprising that the history of orthodontics goes back thousands of years:

Archaeologists have found crooked teeth in human remains dating back 50,000 years.  Many of the Egyptian mummies had crude metal bands around their teeth, and archaeologists believed catgut may have been tied to these bands to provide pressure to move the teeth. The Ancient Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Romans also practiced orthodontia. A gold band was used on Etruscan women to preserve the position of the teeth after death, and the Ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote the first known description of tooth irregularities around 400 B.C. A Roman writer named Celsus, 400 years later, recommended bringing newly emerging teeth into their proper position by regularly pushing them with your fingers. To correct elongated teeth, another Roman named Pliny the Elder, who lived from 23 to 79 A.D., advised filing them to size.

Dental Impressions began around the beginning of the 17th century with Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann, who reported using wax to take impressions. Then in 1756, Phillip Pfaff used plaster of Paris.

Ultimately, progress in orthodontics stalled after ancient times until the 18th century, which saw a surge in development. Pierre Fauchard, born in 1728, is considered the Father of Dentistry, having invented an appliance called bandeau. This horseshoe-shaped strip of metal contained regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth to correct their alignment. Fauchard would also operate on patients with a set of forceps called a pelican, forcibly realigning teeth and tying them to the neighbouring teeth to hold them in place while they healed.

Then, Christophe-François Delabarre (1787-1862) tried separating overcrowded teeth by inserting swelling threads or wooden wedges between each space.

Significant contributions to the practice of orthodontics in the United States began in the 19th century. In 1822, J.S. Gunnell invented the occipital anchorage, a form of headgear that fastens to the jaw from the outside of the mouth to exert gentle pressure on the teeth. Then in 1840, Chapin A. Harris published the first classic book on dentistry, “The Dental Art,” outlining practices such as soldering knobs on bands to assist with tooth rotation and applying gold caps to molars to open the dental bite. When Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1839, orthodontists realized the new material’s potential. In 1846, E.G. Tucker became the first American dentist to use rubber in orthodontic appliances. 

No history of orthodontics is complete without a mention of Edward Hartley Angle, considered the Father of Modern Orthodontics. He identified the true properties of a malocclusion, or misalignment, and addressed them with an increasingly effective set of orthodontic appliances beginning in 1880. Nowadays, many dental products are available for orthodontic patients. 

Signs you may Need Braces

One of the most common questions that we are asked is,” What caused my teeth to be crooked? Or, “What caused my jaw not to be aligned correctly?  Unfortunately, we don’t always know the exact cause, but most orthodontic issues are genetic; you inherited those space or bite problems!  Other issues develop over time due to: thumb- or finger-sucking, dental decay, mouth breathing, injuries, or poor nutrition. The good news is, regardless of the cause you can correct your teeth/bite problems and restore your proper functionality with a beautiful smile!

When not addressed properly orthodontic problems can have a negative impact on your oral health. It’s very important to be able to identify early symptoms of orthodontic problems, especially in children, and get in for a consultation with an orthodontist as soon as possible to determine whether any action will need to be taken, either now or in the future. 

  1. Crowding 

Crowding is the most common reason to seek orthodontic treatment, especially in kids. 

Crowding basically means that there is insufficient space in the mouth for all the teeth. Without the proper room for all those teeth, the teeth crowd each other resulting in crooked teeth. Unfortunately, crowding tends to get worse over time and can make even the simple task of brushing and flossing more complicated, requiring more time and effort to clean all teeth properly. Severe crowding may result in areas that are virtually impossible to clean. This can cause plaque accumulation which in turn causes tooth decay, bad odour, gum disease, and bone loss around teeth.

Orthodontic treatment at a young age will help align and straighten teeth in order to avoid future oral pain and health issues and reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease. However, crowding can also be fixed as an adult in order to repair any damage that’s already been caused and to avoid any future problems. 

  1. Overbite

 An overbite refers to the vertical and horizontal overlap of the front teeth. The severity of the overbite can vary but an overbite is usually noticeable when the front teeth stick out much farther than the bottom teeth. An increased overbite may cause the following issues and oral health problems: 

  • Increased risk of trauma to the front teeth 
  • Significantly increase likelihood of fracturing the front teeth in cause of injury 
  • Complications and reduced longevity of dental restorative work such as cosmetic fillings, crowns, and veneers. 

  1. Crossbite 

A crossbite is an abnormal bite in which the upper tooth is behind the lower opposing tooth. If left untreated, this problem may cause: 

  • Excessive wear or fracture of both teeth 
  • Increased gum recession of the affected teeth 
  • Inability to restore fractured or worn teeth 
  • Asymmetric jaw growth

  1. Underbite 

An underbite is an abnormal bite in which all the upper front teeth are behind the lower front teeth. This sign is usually associated with disproportionate jaw size and may cause the following issues: 

  • Imbalanced facial appearance
  • Accelerated facial aging
  • Difficulty biting and chewing

  1. Open bite  

An open bite is an abnormal bite in which the front teeth do not touch. This may cause: 

  • Difficulty biting 
  • Speech problems, such as lisps.

(To be continued)

©Shameena Abdurahiman

Photos sourced by the author from the Internet

#BeautyOfSmile #PerfectTeeth #HistoryOfBraces #TeethCorrection #TypeOfBites #OralHealth #FashionFunda #DifferentTruths


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