A Brief History Of Braces

Have you ever wondered what orthodontics were like in ancient times? Or whether people cared about the alignment of their teeth at all? As it turns out, straight teeth have been sought after for thousands of years. Over the years archaeologists have uncovered rudimentary forms of braces from numerous civilizations across the world.

At Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, we’re proud to offer some of the most sophisticated orthodontic treatments available today. Dr. Dan and his experienced team are able to provide services like Invisalign and Damon System braces, which are probably more efficient than the crude braces that were utilized in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. Keep reading to learn more about the history of braces!


The first known use of braces dates back longer than you might expect. Archaeologists have discovered that some of the most prolific civilizations in the last few thousand years have utilized a form of braces to align teeth. Obviously, these civilizations didn’t have the luxury of modern plastic aligner trays and self-ligating braces, so what did they use?

Ancient Egyptians used catgut tied to crude metal wires in order to align their teeth. Catgut is a twine-like material made from the intestines of sheep and horse (yuck). And, interestingly, the bulk of Egyptian orthodontics were done after death, to preserve the teeth of those who were mummified. The Etruscans had a similar system for their dead, using a crude system of braces made from gold to preserve teeth and prevent tooth collapse.

The ancient Romans and Greeks both practiced orthodontia. Both civilizations had literature documenting some of their orthodontic notions and practices. For example, Romans were advised to periodically push their teeth with their fingers to promote proper alignment. And it was recommended that they filed down teeth that stuck up higher than the rest. Needless to say, life with braces is a lot easier nowadays.


Interestingly, orthodontic advancements stalled between ancient times and about the 18th century. The bandeau was invented, a horseshoe shaped piece of metal that fit over teeth, as a means of alignment in Europe. And then in the 19th century, important literature came out on dentistry and early orthodontic practices.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that modern braces came to be. Gold was replaced with stainless steel, and orthodontists began to glue brackets to teeth with an adhesive. And it was only in the last twenty or so years we have seen the advent of more advanced products like Damon System braces and Invisalign.


If you’re looking to get braces, you can call Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry in McKinney at 972-547-4443 to schedule a consultation. We also provide a guide to braces for anyone who’s interested in getting orthodontic treatment to learn more about the process.