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A Brief History of Braces by Okanagan Smiles Dental Clinic


Orthodontic treatments have come a long way since Egyptians first began experimenting with ways to straighten teeth. Now, thanks to modern science and the technology we utilize at our Kelowna dental clinic, there are a lot easier, more discreet ways to get a beautiful smile.

Since perfect teeth are not just a passing fad, how did humans straighten their teeth before the science behind modern braces existed?

Smile like an Egyptian

Ancient mummies have been examined and startling discoveries show Egyptians used to wrap animal intestines around their teeth. This practice is similar to methods used by modern-day Kelowna dentists when wiring teeth together to close gaps. The teeth-tightening cord used by Egyptians and made of intestines was known as ‘cat-gut.’ That name might give you a clue as to which animal the intestines came from.

Female Etruscans in Italy during 770 BC and 270 BC were found to have mouth guard-like devices made from gold placed in their mouths before being buried. These golden guards were used to prevent the teeth from collapsing in, so the wearer would look elegant and wealthy when crossing over into the afterlife.

Making progress

It wasn’t until the early 1900s when the term ‘braces’ came to life, but more modern attempts at teeth-straightening gear were introduced in the 1800s. A lot of the tools used by orthodontists were invented during this time, paving the way for achievable brilliant smiles.

Dental dams, x-rays, and gum elastics were a few of the important devices created in the 1800s to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.

Wooden braces?

Many orthodontists in the early 1900s used a wide variety of materials based on the patient’s budget and their geographical location when constructing braces. Wood, copper, and ivory were just a few of the materials considered in the construction phase; however, gold was the favourite choice among dentists.

What’s even better than a set of metal braces tugging your teeth into perfect alignment? Invisible braces—also known as Invisalign at our Kelowna dental clinic—achieve the same results as metal braces, but no one will ever know you’re wearing them. Two Stanford graduates developed this new and improved braces product in 1997, bringing Invisalign to the forefront of modern orthodontic practices.

Being born in the 21st century is a big bonus when looking at methods for aligning your teeth for a picture-perfect smile. ‘Tin grin’ and ‘metal mouth’ nicknames are no longer a threat in your quest for a perfect set of pearly whites.

And, thankfully, you don’t have to rely on cat-gut or gold mouth guards to achieve a beautiful smile and the confidence you deserve.

Interested in straightening your teeth the modern way? Read our post about Invisalign to learn more about how it works.

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