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The Evolution of Dental Science and Orthodontics

John Maher - Thursday, November 10, 2016

When we typically think of orthodontics today, we think of a sophisticated practice that developed within the last century. However, truth be told, the practice of orthodontia has been around for thousands of years. And while what we know as orthodontic practices today, today’s practices are the product of a long-term evolution. Archeologists say that even 50,000 years ago crooked teeth have been found on remains; letting us know, that orthodontia has been a topic for ages. And as there have been age-old problems, so has there been attempts at correcting these issues (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2017).

Orthodontic practices similar to that of today have been discovered in ancient mummies. There’s evidence of practices such as tied metal bonds and catgut to align teeth in these said mummies. Ancient Greeks and Romans practiced applied treatments to align teeth with bands and even in the first 100 years of A.D., ideas of using your fingers to push new incoming teeth together to align them, and the filing down of teeth to even them out, emerged (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2017).

As early as the 17th century, evidence has taught us that these early days the practice of taking impressions of people’s bites began on wax molds. Pierre Fauchard, the “Father of Dentistry”, recognized the relationship between tooth decay and overall general health. He identified dental diseases and different techniques to treat dental issues, writing a book, and developing Dentistry as a separate practice from general medicine. Fauchard was also the first to create dentures in Dental Science, and they were held in place by way of springs (Soratur, 2002).

Phillip Pfaff, a revolutionary man of the 17th century, was the first to use plaster for impressions. The plaster was from Paris (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2017). Tin, gold, and lead were used early on in the 1700’s for fillings. Many of you may even have had grandparents who had gold fillings. In 1756, Phillip Pfaff took impressions made of wax, and then took the plaster from Paris to create the casts (Soratur, 2002).

Later, in the 19th century, this century posed the most active in the development of modern Dentistry. Human Teeth, a book written by R.C. Skinner, was the first American book on dentistry. Published in 1801, this book put dentistry in a growth period for Western Civilization (Soratur, 2002).

During the first half of the 19th century, there were a number of revolutionary discoveries in chemistry, medicine, and physics. The evolution of railroads, automobiles, gas lighting, highways, and a number of other developments, helped the evolution of dental science. In 1871, the most profound invention for dental tools was introduced; the dental drill. This changed the face of dentistry in history. Advancing dental practices, Orthodontics propelled in the 19th and 20th centuries as technology and sciences evolved (Soratur, 2002).

Edward Hartley Angle, who is considered the “Father of Modern Orthodontics” made major contributions to the evolution of orthodontics in 1880. Identifying the properties of misalignment in teeth, he also was able to address these issues in a more effective manner by use of modern appliances. Behold, the invention of the braces. However, Fauchard is often credited the invention of braces even though braces were developed by Edward Hartly Angle, an American (Colgate-Palmolive Company, 2017).

Dr. Wade Williams, an award-winning doctor, known as The Woodlands Orthodontist that uses innovative comprehensive treatments for your orthodontic needs, is not quick to jump start your treatment into braces. He feels that an overall treatment to misalignment is more efficient than braces alone for his patients. With a variety of options, there may be an easier route to your solution. Today’s technology offers doctors the ability to identify causes of orthodontic issues far deeper than yesterday. As you can see, orthodontics has come a long way. Each day science allows us to find better techniques for treatments, giving patients a higher success rate with effective resolutions. Dr. Wade Williams practices continuing education and certifications to keep him up to date with the latest technology, science, and techniques in his field. Isn’t it essential to choose a doctor that evolves just as science does? With the knowledge of Dr. Williams’ modern practices, you can feel confident in your treatment plan.


Colgate-Palmolive Company. (2017). Interesting Facts from The History of Orthodontics. Retrieved from http://colgate.com

Soratur, S.H. (2002). Essentials of Dental Materials. Daryanganj, Delhi, India: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers.

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