A brief history of orthodontics
Milton B. Asbell, DDS, MSc, MA Cherry Hill, N. J.
AJODO August 1990 • Volume 98 • Number 2, p. 176-183
Sections Ancient civilizations Middle ages (476 to 1450) Renaissance period (fourteenth to sixteenth century) Eighteenth century Orthodontics in the United States American orthodontics, 1800 to 1840 American orthodontics,1840 to 1875 American orthodontics, 1875 to 1900 References
Man's ancestry may be traced back for more than one hundred millenia. One of the earliest known types of man is Neanderthal Man. The name is derived from a valley in western Germany where the skeletal remains were found in 1856. He was distinguished by a stocky, heavily muscled build, proportionately short forearm and lower leg, andan extremely dolichocephalic skull with projecting occiput, heavy supraorbital tori, receding forehead, and underdeveloped chin. Another type of man in the early Pleistocene period was Heidelberg Man. His skeletal remains—the famous Heidelberg jaw—consisted of a massive fossilized chinless jaw with distinctly human dentition. The specimen was discovered in 1907 near the town of the same name. Nextin the ancestral line of man is pithecanthropus, a primitive man that is known from a skull and other bone fragments found near the village of Trinil, Java, in 1890. The profile is similar to that of the ape, with a very low forehead and an undeveloped chin. The teeth are characteristically like those of human beings. Another link is the sinjanthropus, whose skeletal remains were discovered nearPeking, China, in 1929, and is also known as Peking Man. Skulls, many teeth, and other skeletal parts reveal a close anatomic relationship to pithecanthropus. It is considered “close to the main line of descent to modern man.” It was not until the postglacial period, which extended back 30,000 to 40,000 years, that modern man, homo sapiens, appeared. The Cro-Magnon Man is an outstandingrepresentative of the first “true man.” Many of his skeletal remains have been found in various parts of Europe. The name is derived from a cave near Les Eyzies, France. The shape of the skull, face, and brain are characteristic of the modern Caucasian man, except for the difference in size. During the years from prehistoric time, man has undergone certain evolutionary changes. These changes include thedevelopment of an increased cranial capacity; the change in the skull conformation; a heightening of the forehead and a receding of the brow ridges; the reduction of the dental and jaw arches that gave form and prominence to the chin; the progressively
humanlike appearance of the teeth; and the increase in stature, with the body becoming more erect. Contrary to popular belief, early man alsosuffered from dental and oral diseases. This was probably because of the type of food he ate and altered occlusion due to excessive wear, causing edge-to-edge or a minimal overbite pattern.1,2
The history of orthodontics has been intimately interwoven with the history of dentistry for more than 2000 years. Dentistry, in turn, had its origins as a part of medicine. Toproperly study our orthodontic origins, we must return to the Greek civilization of the preChristian era. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460 to 377 BC) is revered as a pioneer in medical science, chiefly because of his medical authorship. He was the first to separate medicine from fancy or religion, and with his reports of critical observation and experience, he established a medical traditionbased on facts. This collected information was gathered into a text known as the Corpus Hippocraticum, the medical testament of the preChristian era. This treatise does not discuss the dental art independently but contains many references to the teeth and the tissues of the jaws as part of the medical text. An example: ...the first teeth are formed by the nourishment of the fetus in the womb ......