14 Interesting & Fun Facts About Orthodontics


Chances are, you know the basics of orthodontics and different orthodontic treatments. Like the simple fact that orthodontic treatment is used to gently move the teeth into proper alignment to give you a straight, beautiful smile.

But, there are tons of interesting and fun facts about orthodontics that you may not know. In this article, we’ve put together a few facts that you may be surprised to learn about the history of orthodontics, orthodontists, and the different materials and treatments used. Let’s take a look:


The Term “Orthodontics” Comes From Greek Origin

The word “orthodontics” is originally from the Greek language. “Ortho” means correct or straight, while “dont” (different from the term “don’t”) means tooth. Put these together and the term “orthodontics” simply translates to straight teeth.


People Have Been Dealing With Crooked Teeth For Ages

The desire to straighten misaligned teeth is not a modern thing. Evidence has shown that even in the time of Neanderthal man, crooked teeth were around. Archeologists have even discovered Egyptian mummies that had crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Ancient Romans also used precious metals to try and straighten teeth. 

Around 400 BCE, Hippocrates wrote about “irregularities” of the teeth, where he was referring to misaligned teeth and jaws. Aristotle also contemplated methods to straighten teeth. Cleopatra was even said to have worn an early form of “braces.”


A French Dentist is Credited With Inventing Modern Orthodontic Treatment

Several thousand years later, in 1728, French dentist Pierre Fauchard (also known as the Father of Dentistry) designed the first official modern form of orthodontic appliance/braces, which used what was called the bandeau. This was a flat horseshoe-shaped metal material that was literally tied to the teeth by a thin thread. 

That same year, he wrote his landmark book on dentistry, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on the Teeth.

Orthodontics Became a Dental Specialty in 1900

In 1900, dentist Edward Angle introduced more modern and advanced orthodontic appliances, like metal brackets, to effectively tooth misalignment and other issues. He was the first member of the dental profession to focus his practice solely on moving teeth and properly aligning jaws. Thus founding the orthodontic specialty and becoming the first “orthodontist”. 

Angle also established what is now known as the American Association of Orthodontists, which is still active today and has over 18 thousand orthodontists as members.


All Orthodontists Are Dentists, But Not All Dentists Are Orthodontists

Orthodontists go through the same four years of dental school that dentists do. But, to become an orthodontist, they also go through an additional two to three years of education (with roughly 3700 hours of training) in an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only 5 to 6% of dental professionals are orthodontists. 

Through all of this schooling and training, orthodontists become experienced in much more than just using braces for the correction of tooth and jaw misalignments.


Braces and NASA Have a Connection 

Nickel titanium (aka Nitinol) is a metal alloy that was originally developed in 1959 by NASA for use in the space program. This thin, flexible, alloy is also the same thing that is used in today’s braces wires.

This heat-sensitive alloy, when used in orthodontic treatments, is activated by the body heat of the patient and then the wires maintain their shape once attached to the brackets on the teeth.


It is a Common Myth That Braces Are Magnetic

One of the common myths related to orthodontic treatment is that braces are magnetic. Some people assume that braces will set off metal detectors or even pick up radio transmissions. Or that the odds of being struck by lightning increase with braces. None of this is true. You can be confident in the fact that nothing strange is happening with any metal in your mouth.


Pressure Over a Period of Time is What Moves Teeth

Pressure on your teeth over time is what causes teeth to move. This can be good and bad. Appliances like braces or clear aligners (like Invisalign) are used by orthodontists to apply a gentle, constant pressure on the teeth to guide them into the desired position.

But, things like thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, or constantly swallowing abnormally creates damaging pressure on teeth. These actions can push teeth out of proper alignment and distort bone structure. 


Teeth Don’t Just Magically Move 

Orthodontic treatment relies on a vital, natural process called bone remodeling to be successful. The bone remodeling cells are “osteoclasts”, which allow bone to break down, and “osteoblasts”, which rebuild bone. This process allows your teeth to move into the desired positions of alignment. Eating a healthy diet will help support the success of the bone remodeling process.


Your Teeth Can Still Move After Orthodontic Treatment

Going through orthodontic treatment does not mean your teeth will stay in the desired position forever without assistance. They can still move out of place. That is why wearing a retainer is a crucial part of ensuring the success of orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, even after instruction, 1 in 4 patients who go through active orthodontic treatment have to have it done again because they fail to wear their retainers properly. So, their teeth naturally shifted back to their original position. 

Make sure to wear your retainer after active treatment is completed to maintain a straight, beautiful smile for the rest of your lifetime.


Children Should Begin Orthodontic Treatment by Age 7

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, your child should first be seen by an orthodontist no later than age 7, as soon as tooth irregularities start to appear, even if baby teeth are still present.

Dental conditions are much easier to treat when identified early. So, bringing your child in for an orthodontic evaluation at an early age can help pinpoint any problems that may be present, develop an action plan, and anticipate the best time for orthodontic treatment, if that is necessary.


Braces Are Not Only For Kids

If you think you are too old to straighten your smile, think again. Braces are not just for kids. Roughly one in five patients going through orthodontic treatment is an adult & many are in their 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s. Everyone can benefit from the straight smile that orthodontic treatment will give you.


Orthodontic Treatment is More Beneficial Than Just Cosmetically

Braces are not just about cosmetics. Of course, one of the most obvious benefits of braces is a straight, beautiful smile. But, there are a variety of other health benefits of having straight teeth as well. Having a properly aligned smile can improve everything from how you speak and eat to your overall oral health. It can also, in some cases, significantly reduce neck and jaw pain, help eliminate frequent headaches, and ease breathing issues.


Your Orthodontic Treatment Doesn’t Have to Be Full of Unknowns

As you can see, there are a lot of fun facts about orthodontics. Some of which you may not have known. People have long had a desire for straight teeth. And the materials, types of orthodontic treatments, and techniques used by orthodontists have evolved and greatly improved over the years. Achieving a beautiful, straight smile is easier than ever before.  

If you are thinking about improving the appearance of your teeth through orthodontic treatment, talk to an orthodontist today about your options for treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn everything you can. 

Our expert team of caring professionals here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics are here to answer any questions you may have and help you understand the treatment process step-by-step. Contact us today to schedule your initial appointment!