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The Evolution of Orthodontic Treatments: Braces to Invisible Aligners

The Evolution of Orthodontic Treatments: Braces to Invisible Aligners

Orthodontic treatments have come a long way from the rudimentary techniques of the past. 

Today, options like invisible aligners have revolutionized dental care, offering both functional and aesthetic benefits. 

Let’s explore how orthodontics has evolved, particularly in South Africa.

Early Orthodontic Treatments

Orthodontic practices date back to ancient civilizations, where primitive methods were used to correct misaligned teeth. 

Archaeological findings suggest that the ancient Egyptians used metal bands and catgut to adjust teeth positioning. 

These early attempts laid the groundwork for modern orthodontics.

The Invention of Braces

The 18th and 19th centuries saw significant advancements in dental technology. 

French dentist Pierre Fauchard, often called the father of modern dentistry, introduced the concept of dental braces in 1728. 

By the early 1900s, Edward Angle had further refined braces, creating a more standardized and effective system. 

Traditional metal braces, consisting of brackets and wires, became the standard treatment for misaligned teeth.

Advancements in Braces Technology

As technology progressed, so did the materials and methods used in orthodontics. 

 braces, introduced in the 1980s, offered a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to metal braces. 

These braces used tooth-colored brackets, making them less noticeable. Lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth, provided another discreet option.

“Modern advancements in braces technology have significantly improved patient comfort and treatment efficiency,” says Dr. D. Machikicho, a leading orthodontist in Pretoria.

Introduction of Clear Aligners

The late 20th century marked the beginning of a new era in orthodontics with the introduction of clear aligners. 

Companies like Invisalign pioneered this technology, which uses custom-made, transparent trays to gradually shift teeth into place. 

This innovation has been particularly popular in South Africa, where many patients prefer a less visible option for teeth straightening.

How Clear Aligners Work

Clear aligners work by using a series of custom-fit trays that apply gentle pressure to teeth, moving them into the desired position over time. 

The process starts with a digital scan or impression of the patient’s teeth, which is used to create a personalized treatment plan. 

Patients switch to a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks.

Benefits of Clear Aligners:

  • Invisibility: Clear aligners are virtually invisible, making them a popular choice among adults and teens.
  • Removability: Aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, and cleaning, offering more flexibility than traditional braces.
  • Comfort: Without metal brackets and wires, clear aligners are more comfortable and cause less irritation.

Dr. Sipho Khumalo, an orthodontic expert in Cape Town, notes, “Clear aligners have transformed the orthodontic experience, providing a discreet and convenient option for patients.”

Future of Orthodontic Treatments

The future of orthodontics looks promising, with ongoing research and innovation. 

New materials and digital technologies are being developed to make treatments even more efficient and comfortable. 

In South Africa, orthodontic practices are increasingly incorporating advanced 3D imaging and printing technologies to enhance treatment precision.


  • South African Dental Association: Historical Overview of Orthodontics. Retrieved from https://www.sada.co.za.
  • WHO: Orthodontic Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.who.int.
  • Expert Interviews with Dr. D. Machikicho

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