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From Antiquity to 1850

Even in ancient times, orthodontic advice is occasionally found in medical literature. Hippocrates already described deviating tooth positions in 400 BC. Celsus (25 B.C. – A.D. 50) recommended the removal of milk teeth to make room for the permanent successors and gave the advice to move protruding teeth into the tooth row with finger pressure. In Galen (129 – 199 AD) we find the suggestion to create space by filing teeth if they are crowded. It is remarkable that both the extraction of milk teeth and the grinding of permanent teeth are still used in orthodontics today.

It was not until the rediscovery of ancient medical literature in the Renaissance that such orthodontic advice was taken up again. In 1619 Fabricius described the pulling of teeth when there was a severe lack of space – this is also a method that is still valid today. In 1728, the Frenchman Pierre Fauchard, one of the founding fathers of dentistry, described the use of an outer arch made of ivory to correct crooked teeth. In 1750, the English surgeon John Hunter described a fixed brace consisting of a metal arch and ligatures.

However, until well into modern times, people suffered much more from the often painful consequences of dental caries and periodontitis than from deviating tooth positions, which were therefore probably hardly perceived as a problem. Therefore, literature on orthodontics is correspondingly rare.


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