To Avoid Lifelong Retainers

In the 1800’s, parents began to be concerned about the increasing number of children developing with crowded and irregular teeth and set back jaws.

In the US, a dentist named Edward Angle, developed a method for straightening teeth by fixing wires to them and pulling them with screws and ligatures onto a larger wire, which he called Angles E arch. This proved very popular and it is from this that fixed appliance developed.

   This diffident boy’s life changed once his appearance was changed with Orthotropics


In the early twentieth century a European dentist named Vigo Andresen, working in the northern reaches of Norway developed a block of plastic hollowed out for the tongue that sat inside the mouth and dictated where the child could bite, and thus brought forward under developed jaws. He called this an activator and it has since been known as the Andresen activator.



At more or less the same time a dentist in the United States called Edward Angle developed a range of wire appliances that were fixed to irregular teeth so that they could be moved into a straight line. Unfortunately towards the end of the century it was realised that these sometimes damaged the enamel and the roots of the teeth and after a few years the teeth became crooked again. To overcome this problem orthodontists would recommend ‘retainers’ for a year or two to hold the teeth straight after treatment. However the teeth still recrowded and almost all orthodontic schools now recommend that the teeth should be retained with either removable retainers or fixed wires for the rest of the patient’s life.

It appears that both concepts which underpin modern orthodontics were not treating the causes of the problem but the symptoms. At that time it was thought that crooked teeth were inherited although modern thinking increasingly believes that the environment plays a big part.