The evolution of braces over the years

If you had braces before the 21st century, you’ll notice that today’s braces have changed drastically! Braces are now more compact, durable, efficient and discreet than ever before.

Let’s dive into the evolution of braces to see where orthodontics started, compared to where it is now.


Braces then and now

Braces were first introduced in 1819 by French orthodontist, Christophe-Francois Delabarre! As you can imagine, the first type of braces wasn’t exactly aesthetically-appealing. These braces were made from a cord composed of animal skin, which was also referred to as ‘catgut’ – YIKES.

During this time, headgear was also commonly used to establish an anchor that would guide the top and bottom jaw bones into alignment. (Today, we can do this with rubber bands/elastics attached to a hook on the top and bottom braces.)

Before modern advancements, braces featured a cord that was wrapped and winded around each individual tooth. Nowadays, orthodontists attach a bracket to each tooth with a wire spanning through the brackets and elastics (in traditional braces) to hold brackets to wires, moving teeth comfortably and efficiently. This is a much safer, less invasive alternative to wrapping around tooth roots!

At Nth Degree Orthodontics, we offer Damon® self-ligating braces, which use brackets that have a clip mechanism to hold the wire to the bracket. These braces eliminate rubber bands for a more hygienic treatment that moves teeth quickly – with less friction and less discomfort.


Evolution of braces in the 20th and 21st centuries

What did braces look like in the 50s, 70s and 90s

Braces in the 1950s

In the 1950s, stainless steel was being introduced into orthodontics, but this material wasn’t entirely accepted for use in the field yet. Toward the end of the 1950s, x-rays also started to be used regularly for orthodontic treatment.

While braces were more common in the 50s, they weren’t exactly the type of braces we see today. Braces in the 50s were still wrapped around each individual tooth and bonding adhesive hadn’t been developed for commercial use yet.

Braces in the 1970s

Braces were still wrapped around individual teeth well into the early 1970s. Then, braces in the 70s took a major leap with modern-day technology! Direct bonding (gluing) of brackets to teeth replaced the previous wrapping technique. 

70s braces also featured the revolutionary self-ligating technique that didn’t require the use of elastic bands to adhere brackets to wires. Around the 1970s, lingual braces were also invented. With lingual braces, brackets are attached to the back, tongue-side surfaces of the teeth and are completely hidden when a patient speaks or smiles.

However, these techniques weren’t widely-accepted yet, because they required special training from orthodontists who weren’t quite ready to reinvent their approach yet.

Braces in the 1980s & 1990s

Next came the invention of clear braces in the early 1980s, but traditional metal braces took off first. By the 1990s, traditional braces with colored rubber bands were the most popular form of treatment. 

This was the same decade that Invisalign® clear aligners were born! From the 1990s on, there were a variety of esthetic treatment options available to everyone. Braces have become more esthetically appealing, more efficient with shorter treatment times, less noticeable, and overall, more desirable than ever before.


Evolution of braces: Your options today

Through modern-day orthodontic techniques and technologies, we’re able to offer you advanced forms of braces that (fortunately) don’t require catgut wrapped around each individual tooth!

We take x-rays and intraoral scans (using the advanced iTero® digital scanning device) and high-quality diagnostic photos for every patient, free of charge, in order to create a personalized treatment plan that takes into account every aspect of your smile. 

Our experienced orthodontists, Dr. Nease, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Horvath and Dr. Higginbotham, assess the position of every tooth, as well as the position of your jaw bones, to create a clinically-excellent smile that optimizes not only your appearance, but your bite functionality too.

Providing a personalized patient experience that is both comfortable and modernized is important to us. Choose from modern orthodontic treatments: Damon® braces (metal or clear), Invisalign® or Spark™ clear aligners.

  • Self-ligating braces enable fewer visits to our office throughout your treatment period, because they don’t require replacement of the color o-ties that degrade over time.
  • Clear braces provide a more discreet treatment option with tooth-colored brackets that blend in with your teeth and won’t be noticeable from a short distance. They’re just as effective as metal braces too!
  • Invisalign and Spark treatments allow you to remove your clear aligners as needed to brush your teeth, floss, eat and drink. You won’t have any dietary restrictions with clear aligners – and they’re virtually invisible, so nobody has to know that you’re in treatment!

No matter what your treatment preference is, we have the perfect option to suit your lifestyle. 


Still have questions about modern day braces?

Interested in learning more about braces? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our team at Nth Degree Orthodontics would love to hear from you.

Take the first step to start your treatment journey today! Request your complimentary exam with us at one of our orthodontic offices in Gaffney, Union, Duncan, West Spartanburg or East Spartanburg.

Let’s take your smile to the Nth Degree!

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