dentist holding teeth x-ray

The history and development of orthodontics

The desire for straight teeth is nothing new and, if you suddenly find yourself with a large influx of money and you have a crooked smile, you might seek out orthodontic care. Or maybe you have simply had enough of having a misaligned smile and want to know your options.

Classic antiquity

The history of orthodontics is a surprisingly long one; there are few examples of orthodontic tools from the ancient world, but that does not mean we don’t have evidence of them.  Hippocrates, considered the founder of modern Western medicine, mentioned orthodontics in his medical textbook. Aristotle included it in private letters and Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a practising orthodontist for the Roman elite in 24 BC. Although orthodontics would have been far more brutal and dangerous back then it is interesting to see that even in the time of the Roman Empire straight teeth were still a priority for some.

The revolutions which led to modern dentistry

The scientific revolution and industrial revolutions came together to make big changes to the dental industry. There was a drive to standardise and improve the quality of medicine that came along with an increase in disposable income, creating a vast number of patients who could actually afford dental care including orthodontics. Dental services stopped becoming exclusive to the aristocracy and started to serve the middle and upper lower classes. This helped to improve not only smiles, but overall health as well, as deaths relating to dental issues dropped drastically.

More recently, quality of care became important (and a voting issue) so legislation caught up, improving dentistry in general, including orthodontic services, introducing the British Orthodontic Society, a subgroup of the General Dental Council both of which have the authority from parliament to regulate and maintain standards of the industry in the UK.

Digital dentistry
dentist using tablet to display x-ray results

The internet, with the development of more powerful computing, has armed orthodontists with new tools like Invisalign London. This relies on computer-aided design and extremely accurate anatomically correct simulations to predict how a patient’s teeth will react to forces and uses that guide to design a completely unique solution to their orthodontic misalignment. This can not only be used to provide insight to the patient on how their treatment is likely to play out before committing to the procedure, but is also about all of the adjustments that would be required throughout the treatment to be pre-designed into the sequence of aligners. This, therefore, reduces the need for the patient to travel to the clinic except for observations or in the event of a complication.

With check-ups and even the continued observations often being successfully performed via online consultations, this signals a big change in the way orthodontic treatment can be provided.

With advances in the manufacturing process making uniquely designed components cheaper and easier to produce with less man-hours, it seems that changes in orthodontics are far from over, but the underlying need to rearrange teeth will always be there. To discover which type of orthodontic tool can help you to get the smile you want, talk to your dentist today.

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