History of Orthodontics

The word 'orthodontics' is derived from the Greek words for 'straight' ('orthos') and 'teeth' ('dontia'), and as this implies, is not concerned with curing disease as such (although diseases can cause problems that orthodontics can correct), but with the correction of tooth displacement, or more colloquially, 'fixing crooked teeth'. Sometimes this is caused by the way the teeth and jaws develop in children and sometimes other factors, such as facial injury or disease cause the problems.

In Australia the ASO – the Australian Society of Orthodontists – was formed back in 1927, but the practice of orthodontics has been around an awful lot longer than that - in fact archaeologists have found evidence of orthodontic practice in two thousand year old mummies where metal bands had been wrapped around individual teeth, presumably to correct their positioning.

The modern practice of orthodontics has been very heavily influenced by Edward Angle, an American dentist who decided to focus on orthodontics shortly after becoming a dentist in 1876, subsequently becoming a professor of orthodontics at the University of Minnesota, and later at Washington University Medical Department. He went on to set up a number of schools specifically to teach orthodontic practice, called the 'Angle Schools of Orthodontia' and his expertise and teaching in the field have established him as the 'father of modern orthodontics'.

Angle created a classification system for malocclusions in the 1890s, which set out a standard by which it could be determined whether teeth needed any orthodontic treatment or not. Current orthodontic research indicates that anything up to one third of the world population would benefit from some form of orthodontic treatment!

Given this situation, in 2004 the Australian Society of Orthodontists launched a program called 'Give A Smile' whereby members of the organisation could offer to treat patients chosen from orthodontic waiting lists completely free of charge. So far more than 60% of the members of the ASO have treated patients under the scheme, with a total of about 1,500 people receiving free treatment to date.

Shine Orthodontics are long-term supporters of the ASO's Give A Smile program.