We as a society are grateful for the incredible services provided by the small, hard-working orthodontists among us. There are not many of them, only a shade over 6,000 for all 330 million of us United States residents. It’s a great profession, rated one of the top five. It’s just that the training is so long and so demanding that only a few complete it. But we love them and love what they can do for us. We love straight teeth. That’s why over 4 million of us are wearing some type of braces right now. That’s more of a statement than a SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ORTHODONTIST bumper sticker. Who said orthodontics is dull?
Here are Three Fun Facts From Orthodontics:
- Celebrities are not born with perfectly straight teeth
- Australian aborigines Insure their kids grow up with straight teeth by knocking a few out when they’re little.
- Cavemen didn’t need braces to have straight teeth.
What’s even more fun is that they’re all connected. Not only that, but each of the three relates to the State of The Art in orthodontics today. Hang on, this is a pretty wild ride.
THEN AND NOW
The cavemen, our Stone Age ancestors, obviously didn’t have any orthodontics graduates from Nova Southeastern or any other university. The thing is, they had no need for a local orthodontist. Studies of human skulls from those times indicate that pretty much everybody had straight teeth. Just as well, perhaps, since Fred Flintstone would have had trouble doing anything about it if he needed to.
So what changed? How is it that people who hadn’t even come up with round things that roll totally aced us moderns in this area?
We don’t know for sure, but we can see that human jaws used to be bigger. Maybe it’s that today’s smaller jaws tend to crowd our teeth, pushing them out of place as they erupt. This begs the question, of course, of why we have smaller jaws than Fred & Co. Again, we don’t know for sure. We do know that the human diet changed over the millennia between then and now. At first gradually, picking up speed, and then drastically over the past couple of centuries. From raw meat and raw roots to softening food up with cooking. Then agriculture, and more grains and veggies in the diet. Finally, lately, all the way through TV dinners to cheeseburgers. Big, powerful jaws lost their value over time, and so disappeared? Could be.
ALONG THE WAY
Fast forward from the Stone Age to ancient Egypt. We find those folks had a keen interest in Hollywood smiles, even then. Things must have gone downhill, orthodontically speaking, since caveman days. The pyramid peoples’ local orthodontist was doing some Research & Development involving “braces” made of animal guts. We find signs of similar efforts all along the way, throughout the civilized world, and then – 1728. The first attempt to make braces with metal and a thread, that looked like …braces. So, yes: braces came along before the United States of America was born. Historians have not been able to locate any Yelp or Google reviews by patients, so we can’t really know whether they worked.
We’d gone past the catgut phase of orthodontics long before NASA’s white coats in the lab came up with a cool new metal for the space shuttle. It’s a metal with a memory. It can remember a shape, and return to that shape. Naturally, orthodontists quickly jumped on the supermetal and use it today. It’s incredibly strong and light, among other sterling qualities. Patients with nickel-titanium hardware in their mouths needn’t worry, though. Sure, it’s true that it would take Superman and Superwoman to pull apart if their nickel-titanium braces got locked while kissing. Thing is, that’s just an urban myth, the braces-locked-while-kissing thing. It doesn’t really happen.
Modern times breed modern worries, it seems. Everyone should just calm down. Kissers’ braces won’t get locked up. There’s also no need at all to worry about braces picking up or interfering with radio signals. Nor will they set off those metal detectors at the airport. They’re not magnetic, either. And heavens, no, braces do not attract lightning bolts. Sheesh! Anyway, today there are options for people who want perfect smiles but won’t do the metal-mouth thing. Invisalign, for example. Custom-made clear plastic trays that fit onto the teeth. They’re not totally invisible. But if you’re wearing Invisalign, and somebody does see it, that person’s probably so close to you he or she knows about it anyway.
Of course, none of those modern concerns is as silly as the Australian Aborigines’ idea of knocking out a few of a kid’s teeth. Anthropologists observed this custom as recently as 1936, though it seems to have vanished since then. Well, they have iPhones now, the aborigines. But, in 1936 they were still confident that every Dad was a fine local orthodontist. He’d assure his kids’ perfect smiles by bashing out a few teeth in childhood. We don’t know whether this worked. We do know that the aborigine adults had very straight teeth. Cause and effect? We may never know. Maybe it wasn’t so silly, after all.
What do Danny Glover, Nicholas Cage, Cindy Crawford, Serena Williams, Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway, and Tom Cruise have in common with the Cave People and 1936 aborigines? Straight teeth. The folks in that list, though, weren’t born that way, unlike the Flintstones. We’re also pretty sure their fathers didn’t knock a few of their teeth out in childhood, aborigine-style. No, those mega-celebs all took the modern route to perfect smiles. They all had metal braces. Not as little kids, either. They’re not the only stars who loved their local orthodontist, either. If you don’t believe this, have a look.
You’re probably wondering how they got away with this. Ever seen one of these stars on the screen flashing metal? No. Ah-ha, so they started and finished treatment between movies? Could be. Look, some things have to stay confidential. If they’re not saying, their orthodontists never will, either.
YOUR LOCAL ORTHODONTIST
All of which brings us to you. Since you’re reading this, you’ve got some kind of interest in orthodontic treatment. Whether it’s for yourself or for your child, spouse, friend, or relative, it’s a positive step. If you think it’s called for, you’re probably right. If you’re concerned about it hurting, embarrassing, or disappointing the patient, you’re sensible and prudent. Those are fair concerns about any kind of treatment. Look, this is not something you order from Amazon. You’d be treated by your Lantana orthodontist, who would be happy to have a look and address these and any other concerns you have.
A note about cost. This may have crossed your mind as you read that list of Hollywood orthodontics patients. The cost of orthodontic treatment is probably much more significant to you than it was to them. Your local orthodontist understands that. This is why treatment has become steadily more cost-effective over the years. It’s also why there are innovative financial solutions, not just scientific and technological ones.
We’ve come a long, long way since the Stone Age. In fact, we’ve made incredible advances just in the past 20 years. Technology has not left orthodontics out of the picture. Far from it. Let us surprise you with the convenience, comfort, and results of modern state-of-the-art orthodontic care.