Orthodontic Patient

Bet You Didn’t Know…
Fun And Quirky Facts About Orthodontics

When you think of orthodontics, “fun” may not be the word that comes to mind. But the field is actually quite interesting and has a rich history. So, we thought we would lighten things up and share some interesting trivia with you. Now, go be the life of the party and surprise someone with your quirky and newfound knowledge!

Fact #1

Braces have a connection to space-age technology.

Braces have a connection to space-age technology.

Some wires used for braces contain a certain amount of nickel titanium, which was created by NASA for utilization in the space program. When used for orthodontic treatment, these wires are activated by a patient’s body heat and maintain their shape once attached to the teeth.

Fact #2

Crooked teeth have been around since the time of Neanderthal man.

Crooked teeth have been around since the time of Neanderthal man.

But the desire to straighten teeth can be traced back to early Egyptian, Roman and Greek societies. Archeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Ancient Romans bound their teeth with gold wire. Catgut was also used. Hippocrates wrote about “irregularities” of the teeth around 400 BCE*. Aristotle contemplated ways to straighten teeth. Even Cleopatra was said to have worn an early set of “braces.”

Fact #3

Orthodontists are specialists in moving jaws and teeth.

But did you know orthodontists have about 3700 hours of training after four years of dental school and are an elite group of just 5-6% of all dental professionals?

Fact #4

When you think of “appliances,” you probably think of your kitchen stove or refrigerator.

When you think of “appliances,” you probably think of your kitchen stove or refrigerator.

But an orthodontist calls the tools used to move a patient’s teeth appliances. Braces, headgear, and aligners are appliances.

Fact #5

The word “orthodontics” is of Greek origin.

The word “orthodontics” is of Greek origin.

“Ortho” means straight or correct. “Dont” (not to be confused with don’t) means tooth. Together, “orthodontics” means straight teeth.

Fact #6

There are currently about 4 million patients in the U.S. undergoing orthodontic treatment.

So, if you have or are considering braces, you are not alone. And think of the hundreds of millions before you!

Fact #7

Braces are not just for children and teens.

Braces are not just for children and teens.

In fact, 1 in 4 patients is an adult who decided it was not too late for a beautiful smile.

Fact #8

Braces were invented over 300 years ago.

Braces were invented over 300 years ago.

The first braces as we know them today were created by French dentist Pierre Fauchard in 1728. They included a flat, horseshoe-shaped metal tied to the teeth using a thin thread.

Fact #9

Teeth can move after treatment.

Teeth can move after treatment.

Despite doctor’s orders, about one-quarter of patients do not wear their post-treatment retainer as advised and later need retreatment for teeth that have shifted back.

Fact #10

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends a first exam be completed at age 7, while there are still some baby teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends a first exam be completed at age 7, while there are still some baby teeth.

Many think 12-13 is the right age to see an orthodontist for the first time. Think again.

Fact #11

Edward Angle is the founding father of orthodontics.

Dr. Angle was the first orthodontist. In fact, he was the first dental professional to limit his practice to just orthodontics (moving teeth and aligning jaws), in 1900. He also established what is now the American Association of Orthodontics and created the first classifications (still used today) to delineate the severity of malocclusions (the misalignment of teeth when the jaws close).

Fact #12

Early braces had a lot of bling.

Early braces had a lot of bling.

Gold was the metal of choice for braces circa 1900. Because gold is a malleable metal, it was easy to shape into an orthodontic appliance. But because it is malleable, it stretches easily. Therefore, patients had to see their orthodontist frequently for adjustments.

Fact #13

Teeth can move because bone breaks down and rebuilds.

Cells called “osteoclasts” break down bone. “Osteoblast” cells rebuild bone. The process is called “bone remodeling.” Eating a healthful diet helps support bone remodeling.

If you have an interesting fact about the field of orthodontics you would like us to add, we would love to hear from you. We will update this list as new advances unfold and we learn of more interesting ortho history and trivia.


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