The History of Braces

The History of Braces
Posted on 10/01/2018

Getting braces is almost like a rite of passage in today’s day and age. Now that we have the technology and the innovation to improve orthodontic health, why would someone pass up the opportunity? But how did braces become such a popular and effective method? Our orthodontists at Heller Orthodontics value brace’s past and prioritize the current innovations available to serve you and your smile.

Orthodontics Of The Past

At Heller Orthodontics, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality and innovative treatments. But orthodontics had to start somewhere. Ancient Roman remains have been discovered with small gold wires on some individuals’ teeth; these are theorized to be a precursor to braces as an orthodontic treatment by pushing the teeth into the desired positions.

In more recent history, the 18th century, early attempts at correcting teeth alignment were attributed to an early dentist, Pierre Fauchard. Fauchard wrote about a device called “The Bandeau,” which was essentially a mouthguard worn to correct teeth alignment.

The Invention of Braces

In 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre created the first “modern” braces. This early form of braces consisted of placing a wire “crib” over sets of two teeth in order to keep them in place. The following events were additional innovations that lead us to the orthodontic technology of today:

  • 1843— Dr. Edward Maynard added elastics to the braces system to improve jaw alignment.

  • 1846—E.J. Tucker modified braces to improve comfort for patients.

  • 1864— Dr. S.C. Barnum created the dental dam—a latex guard placed over the teeth to protect the gums while adding braces or doing orthodontic or dental treatments.

  • Early 1900’s—Henry Albert Baker’s orthodontic work helps eliminate the prevalence of teeth extraction in order to utilize braces successfully.

The earliest mention of the word “braces,” however was not until the 1900s. Throughout the 20th century, braces adapted and evolved in a variety of ways; orthodontists used different materials, wiring techniques, and appearances. The 1970s came with a wave of innovation that paved the way for the modern braces orthodontists now implement.


Types of Braces

Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most popular orthodontic option for teeth-straightening. This traditional braces method consists of a system of metal brackets and wires. The orthodontist attaches brackets to the front of the teeth using cement, and wires and elastic bands are attached to apply constant pressure to help straighten the teeth. Follow-up appointments are scheduled every 3-10 weeks for the orthodontist to replace the bands and adjust the wires.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces differ from metal braces primarily in terms of appearance. Rather than using metal brackets, this orthodontic treatment uses a translucent ceramic material that blends in with the tooth's natural color. Ceramic braces are particularly popular with adult patients since it offers a less-noticeable orthodontic option than metal braces. While ceramic braces are more aesthetically appealing, they can be less durable and are more expensive. Contact Heller Orthodontics for more information about the financial comparison.

Lingual Braces

If inconspicuous orthodontic treatment is your goal, lingual braces may be a good option for you. The functionality of lingual braces is the same as metal braces, but the brackets are placed on the tongue side of the teeth. Lingual braces are not the correct treatment for every orthodontic problem, so let our orthodontists at Heller Orthodontics help you decide if you are a candidate!


Invisalign uses clear aligners that are inherently less noticeable than metal braces. Additionally, Invisalign is especially appealing, because it is a removable orthodontic option! That means there are no restrictions on what you can eat while using Invisalign. Invisalign is a flexible and inobtrusive orthodontic treatment option, making it highly popular today.

Visit Heller Orthodontics in Laurel and Bethesda!

The world of orthodontics has changed dramatically since the earliest attempts at straightening Roman teeth. Today, Heller Orthodontics provides the latest orthodontic innovations available for our patients. Whether you are interested in metal braces, ceramic braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic options, Dr. Heller is ready to discuss the treatment plan that’s right for you! Conveniently located in Laurel, Bethesda, and North Potomac, MD, Heller Orthodontics is ready to provide the highest quality of orthodontic care. Call us today or schedule an appointment online to take your first step towards the smile of your dreams!