Until relatively recently, though, tooth-straightening was a secondary concern among dentists; first was tooth decay.
Before modern dentistry, dental pain was often attributed to either fabular tooth-worms or an imbalance of the four humoral fluids.
The most common treatments were bloodletting, to drain the offending liquid from the gums or cheeks, or extraction.
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He also developed what many consider to be the first orthodontic appliance: the Around the same time that Fauchard practiced, the desire for a symmetrical set of teeth was taking root among the wealthy in Europe and the U. Thomas Berdmore, the personal dentist to England’s King George III, made the case for both the medical and social benefits of a symmetrical set of teeth, writing that they “give a healthy juvenile air to the countenance, improve the tone of the voice, render pronunciation more agreeable and distinct, help mastication, and preserve the opposite teeth from growing prominent.”In , Angus Trumble describes how these class-centric attitudes contributed to a cultural association between crooked teeth and moral turpitude.
Painters of the period used the open mouth as a “convenient metaphor for obscenity, greed, or some other kind of endemic corruption,” he wrote: Most teeth and open mouths in art belonged to dirty old men, misers, drunks, whores, gypsies, people undergoing experiences of religious ecstasy, dwarves, lunatics, monsters, ghost, the possessed, the damned, and—all together now—tax collectors, many of whom had gaps and holes where healthy teeth once were. Talbot, one of the early proponents of X-Rays in dentistry, argued that malocclusion—misalignment of the teeth—was hereditary and that people who suffered from it were “neurotics, idiots, degenerates, or lunatics.”In the 20th century, tooth decay was finally tamed through advancements in microbiology, which established connections between cavities and diets heavy in sugar and processed flour. S., as orthodontics advanced and tooth extraction became less common, a proud open-mouthed smile became the cultural norm.
From cigarettes to dish soap, television commercials and magazine ads were punctuated with glinting smiles.
For much of my childhood, around once a year or so, my parents would drive me across town to a new orthodontist’s office, where they’d receive yet another written recommendation for braces to send to our insurance provider.
After the company inevitably declined to cover the cost, for any one of a dozen reasons—my teeth were moving too much, or they weren’t in enough disorder, or they were in too much disorder to make braces worthwhile without some surgery—we’d immediately start strategizing for the next year. The dental braces we know today—a series of stainless-steel brackets fixed to each tooth and anchored by bands around the molars, surrounded by thick wire to apply pressure to the teeth—date to the early 1900s.
Today, some 4 million Americans are wearing braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, and the number has roughly doubled in the U. But cultural and social concerns about crooked teeth are much older than that., he notes that people with irregular palate arches and crowded teeth were “molested by headaches and otorrhea [discharge from the ear].” The Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus recommended that children’s caregivers use a finger to apply daily pressure to new teeth in an effort to ensure proper position.Egyptian mummies have been found with gold bands around some of their teeth, which researchers believe may have been used to close dental gaps with catgut wiring.The trend continued for several centuries—in , James Wynbrandt notes that there were around 100 working dentists in the United States in 1825, but more than 1,200 by 1840.The reason for the surge: After the financial panic of 1837, many of the nation’s newly unemployed mechanics and manual laborers turned to the crude art of tooth extraction.noted in a 2007 piece on the history of dentures, from ancient times until the 20th century, they were made from a wide variety of materials—including hippopotamus ivory, walrus tusk, and cow teeth.Pierre Fauchard, the 18th-century French physician sometimes described as the “father of modern dentistry,” was the first to keep his patients’ dentures in place by anchoring them to molars, formalizing one of the basic principles of contemporary braces.Fauchard developed a number of other techniques for straightening teeth, including filing down teeth that jutted too far above their neighbors and using a set of metal forceps, commonly called a “pelican,” to create space between overcrowded teeth.