10 Interesting Orthodontic Facts

Whether you're thinking about getting braces or currently undergoing treatment, there are a lot of things you should know about straightening your smile. Orthodontic treatment isn't just about wires, brackets and elastics, however. There are many fun orthodontic facts to learn about braces and why straightening your teeth is easier than ever before.


#1: NASA originally created the wires used for braces.

You may already know that some wiring used for braces contains nickel titanium, but did you know that NASA originally developed this alloy for use in the space program? When used in orthodontic appliances, these thin, highly elastic and flexible wires are activated by body heat and able to maintain their shape after being bent and attached to the teeth.


#2: Braces have been around for nearly 300 years.

In 1728, Pierre Fauchard, also known as the Father of Dentistry, designed the first official braces. These braces consisted of flat metal material connected to the teeth by a thin thread. As we entered the 20th century with a better grasp on malocclusion, dentist Edward Angle introduced more advanced and modern orthodontic appliances, like brackets, to effectively address issues with tooth misalignment.


#3: All orthodontists are dentists.

All orthodontists are dentists, but only about six percent of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of teeth irregularities, such as improper bite. After graduating from dental school, an orthodontist must successfully complete an additional two to three years of education from an accredited orthodontic residency program.


#4: The desire for straighter teeth can be traced to ancient Egypt.  

Even though braces weren't designed until the early 18th century, people have had a yearning for straight, attractive smiles for thousands of years. Many mummies have been discovered with cords made from animal intestines wrapped around their teeth, much like modern braces wiring, which archaeologists believe was an attempt at straightening crooked teeth.


#5: Retainers are just as important as braces.

The success of a patient's orthodontic treatment depends on how dedicated he/she is about wearing their retainer. Unfortunately, approximately 25 percent of patients who wear braces have to get them again because they fail to wear their retainers as instructed. For this reason, their teeth shift to their original, crooked position. Bottom line: Wear your retainer to maintain a beautiful, straight smile for a lifetime!


#6: Braces aren't just for kids.

If you think your time for a straighter smile has long passed, think again. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, about one in five orthodontic patients is an adult & many patients are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. That means kids, parents and grandparents can reap the benefits of a straighter smile through orthodontic treatment.


#7: Famous people wear braces, too!

Do you ever wonder how celebrities get those Hollywood smiles? Just like the rest of us. Many famous actors, singers and professional athletes have worn orthodontic appliances to correct issues with their teeth and enhance their smiles, including Tom Cruise, Kathryn Heigle, Chelsea Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg, to name a few.


#8: Millions of people in the U.S. are wearing braces, right now.

As you read this, approximately four million people in the United Sates are wearing braces or another form of orthodontic appliance to straighten their teeth, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Of those receiving treatment, 75 percent are younger than 18.


#9: Not everything you hear about braces is true.

Rest assured that braces don't live up to many of the rumors you have heard. Braces will not set off metal detectors. It is not possible to lock braces while kissing. Braces do not interfere with radio signals. Wearing braces will not increase your odds of being struck by lightning. You can still safely and effectively play instruments and participate in sports while wearing braces.


#10: Orthodontic treatment should begin by age seven.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends having your child seen by an orthodontist as soon as tooth irregularities appear no later than age seven. An early evaluation can help determine if problems are present and anticipate the most appropriate time for orthodontic treatment, if necessary. More so, many conditions are far easier to treat if they are identified early.


As you can see from these interesting orthodontic facts, the techniques and tools used by orthodontists to straighten teeth have certainly evolved and improved over the years. One thing has always been constant, however: People have a strong desire for a straight, attractive smile. If you want to learn more about improving the appearance of your teeth with braces, we can schedule you to meet with Dr. Carly, our orthodontist for a free consultation about options for treatment, today.


Dr. Carly

Danielle O'Rourke