The History of Orthodontics: From Ancient Braces to Modern Clear Aligners

Nowadays, popular orthodontic treatment such as braces seem like a routine part of society, but in the past braces were unusual and unheard of before the invention in 1819. However, there were some ancient cultures in the past that managed to make dental treatments more effective without the use of modern technology.

Braces for teeth have been around for a long time with the first braces from ancient civilizations

Good dental health has always been important to many people, who’ve taken care of their teeth with help from braces since ancient times. Braces were used to correct crooked teeth in the living and set them straight for the afterlife.

In the past, there were a number of materials that were used in braces all around the world. These include gold, metal and/or catgut. As time goes by, a lot of new types of materials have also been incorporated into the practice of dentistry.


The Egyptians archaeologists have found evidence of Egyptian mummies with metal posts on their teeth and affixed with a cable from catgut, which acted as the archwire in modern braces. The cable places pressure on the teeth to prevent the bone from shifting out of alignment. As the afterlife was so important in Egyptian culture, teeth that were often neglected until death.

Ancient Romans

The Ancient Romans were some of the first people to use braces on the living. Gold wires have been found threaded through some Roman teeth which proves that they were making use of these devices.


The Etruscans believed that the alignment of a dead person’s teeth would determine what type of afterlife they were entitled to. To do this, they placed a mouthguard in their mouth as the bodies lay in the tomb.

Ancient Greeks

Historic sources show that the earliest evidence of orthodontic practices in Greece dates back to 1000 BC.

Modern braces were not invented until 1819

Braces were customized for the first time back in 1819 by a French dentist named Christophe-Francois Delabarre. He devised a woven wire or ‘crib’ fitted over both top & bottom teeth and worn for an extended period to straighten teeth over time.

Modern clear aligners were not invented until 1997

Zia Chishti, a Stanford graduate who had to wear braces growing up, thought of an innovative alternative to traditional metal braces. The product would be invisible with a clear design and provide the same straightening action without the need for archwire or regular adjustments. He collaborated with Kelsey Wirth – a fellow Stanford graduate – to create the Invisalign system. While it was invented in 1997, it didn’t become available until around 2001.

What are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners are a modern way to straighten the teeth without the need for braces. Clear aligners are very efficient at correcting mild to moderate dental issues. So efficient that they have become the go-to straightening option for most adults.

How do clear aligners work?

Clear aligners work the same way as orthodontic braces. They shift your teeth into the right position. However, this doesn’t happen all at once. The shifting process occurs gradually.

One key difference to other options is that clear aligners don’t use brackets and wires. Also, you don’t have to visit your dentist regularly for adjustment. Instead, you’ll get a replacement approximately every two weeks. Every new set of clear aligners that you wear maps a new position for your teeth to shift into.

To enjoy the full benefits of clear aligners you’ll need to wear them for 22 hours daily.

What can clear aligners treat?

Clear aligners are predominantly used to treat the following common conditions:

  • Spacing issues
  • Crowding issues
  • Teeth gaps

Benefits of clear aligners

Modern dental technology has improved orthodontics drastically so that straightening your teeth no longer interferes with your professional or social life. Clear aligners are the ideal treatment option for the following reasons:

  • Cost effective. Up to 70% less than braces.
  • Faster teeth straightening. 4-6 month average treatment time vs 2 years+ for traditional braces.
  • Near invisible.
  • Comfortable and removable.
  • No in-office dental appointments required.

How long is clear aligner treatment time?

How long it takes for clear aligners to work comes down to your specific case and its complexity. The average treatment time for clear aligners is 4-6 months. However, this is one of the great things about clear aligners – you will start to see results in as little as 60 days!

How long should you wear your clear aligners for each day?

You, the patient, can have an impact on how long and effective clear aligner treatment is by following the prescribed treatment plan. For example, it’s important your clear aligners are worn 22 hours per day. However, you can (and we advise should) take them out to eat and brush your teeth. Aside from that, you should be prepared to commit to the 22 hour wear time per day for the period of your treatment plan.

Beam clear aligners

Beam clear aligners are on a mission to make dental care more affordable and accessible to all Australians. That’s why their clear aligners are one of the most affordable solutions for improving your smile.


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