When you look at human interactions, no matter what part of the world you’re looking at, it becomes painfully obvious of one thing; we use our smile to mean a lot of things, and we use it very, very often. Because of this, we also spend a lot of time worrying about, and considering, the upkeep and improvement of that smile, specifically the teeth that are often involved in said smile, and making sure that they look the best they possibly can.
This isn’t a recent development, either. Back in the days of the great Greek philosophers, people who conversed with Aristotle recorded a conversation about how they could manipulate the teeth into a more perfect alignment, as well as discussing the risks and benefits of such a procedure, and why it was necessary or useful at all. Of course, as with so many great philosophers, they were fantastic when it came to discussing, but far less useful when it came time for doing. Indeed, it was not the Greeks who would first actually made an attempt to manipulate the teeth, but the Egyptians who would make the first attempt at doing so, using a crude form of what we would, today, consider to be orthodontic headgear, the most primitive of orthodontics.
Their headgear was designed to realign the teeth, at which it mostly failed. However, it did succeed in making sure that the teeth in the mouth didn’t get any worse off than they already were, which was a great improvement over the technology that had existed before it (namely, none), and it was also able to keep the teeth in the mouth after the body was dead and mummified, as well as preventing the mouth from collapsing after death. This last point was especially important for those who were believers in the Book of the Dead, which required that the deceased answer to their Gods for their crimes, which, obviously, one can’t do if they’ve no mouth to do it with.
The modern age of orthodontics, interestingly, also involved orthodontic headgear. Although, this time around, the orthodontic headgear actually had a proven record of success realigning the teeth, repairing damage already done from misalignment of the teeth, and, in general, being a good stepping stone for more modern and more discreet treatments to fix malocclusions (a fancy word meaning misalignments) of the teeth. Orthodontic headgear came around in the 1920s, at the same time that people were wearing flappers and other gaudy wear, and while it was effective at doing what it was designed to do, it was also terribly conspicuous.
The next step in modern orthodontics, and one still in common use today, was the standard metal braces. In fact, these braces are the most commonly used method of realigning the teeth, even today. They’re far more discreet, as well, than their predecessors were, as you could see orthodontic headgear from afar, but you can only see standard metal braces when someone with them installed opens their mouth. Having said that, it will eventually be noticed, because most people do not go for the year and a half or so that they have braces in their mouth without opening it or uttering a word.
Braces are far more simple, too, than the headgear that they replaced. Braces, essentially, consist of three parts. First, there are brackets, commonly made of stainless steel or aircraft grade titanium, which are mounted on the teeth with the use of a long-term dental adhesive that will last for years on end without failing or losing its adhesion. Over the tops of these brackets (or, in some more modern variants, through a hole in the cent of them) is run a long metal wire, which is then wrapped around, or hooked around, said bracket, in order that it can provide the various tensions that are required in order to actually do the work of realigning the teeth. The metal wire is then held in place on the brackets with the use of a rubber band, that most humble of office equipment, applied to every individual bracket on the teeth. This simple set of metal and rubber has been the most common and most effective method of corrective misaligned teeth in human history, and it is less than fifty years old at the time of this writing.
So, if you’re looking for something to help fix the alignment issues you’ve been having with your teeth, ask your local professional orthodontist what they can do, and what treatment plan they recommend, for you teeth. You’ll be glad you did when you’ve got an amazing smile to show off to the world.