The Development of Braces and The First Metal Mouths

In the early 20th century, a wide variety of materials was used in orthodontics.

The materials used by orthodontists ranged from gold, platinum and silver to gum rubber, vulcanite, ivory and wood.

18 carat gold was routinely used for wires, bands, clasps, ligatures, and spurs.

Gold was used because it was easy to shape.

However, among the drawbacks of gold was that its softness meant it required frequent adjustments.

And, of course, it was very expensive.

However, the original “metal mouth” was often real gold or silver.

Around the time the first dental specialty board – the American Board of Orthodontics – was set up in 1929, stainless steel was becoming widely available.

However using it in braces was controversial and it was not generally accepted as a material for orthodontic treatment until the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Braces continued to wrap around the teeth until the mid 1970s, when direct bonding became a reality.

Although the bonded bracket was invented earlier, the adhesive wasn’t perfected until almost a decade later.

Like any new approach, it took some time to catch on and many people continued wearing the old “wrap around” metal braces into the late 1970s.

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