About NZAO

The NZAO is the professional body of orthodontists in New Zealand. Our members commit to continuously improving their education and professional development in the art and science of orthodontics.

Orthodontists are dentists who have undertaken an additional 3 years of specialist university education in orthodontics. Specialist orthodontists are the only authorities with the knowledge and training to advise you on the full range of orthodontic options. You can be sure you’ll get the highest standards of care at all times. If you have any concerns about your orthodontist or your treatment,  you can find our complaints procedure here

We encourage you to speak directly to your orthodontist first. If you can’t resolve the problem that way,  please contact us at the NZAO office. We’ll give you advice and information about our complaints resolution procedure.

History of orthodontics

The word ‘orthodontics’ comes from Greek. ‘Ortho’ means to straighten or correct, while ‘odont’ comes from the Greek word odous, which means tooth. Archaeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Hippocrates was writing about ‘irregularities’ of teeth around 400 BC.

Pierre Fauchard, a French dentist, wrote about an orthodontic appliance in his 1728 book on dentistry, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on the Teeth. The bandeau was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal that was tied to the teeth to help align them. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then!

The first ever orthodontist – that is, a qualified dentist who limited their practice to moving teeth and aligning jaws – was Edward H. Angle, an American who is often thought of as the father of modern orthodontics.

In the early 1900s gold was often used to make orthodontic appliances, because it could be stretched and adjusted. Orthodontic treatment was reserved for the wealthy. The use of cheaper, stronger and more flexible wire alloys later in the 20th Century made orthodontic treatment more accessible to people. Today, orthodontic appliances can be made from different materials including metal, plastic and even ceramics.

Here, specialist orthodontics was recognised as a separate discipline from general dentistry as early as 1927, when the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics was formed as a study group of the New Zealand Dental Association. In New Zealand, orthodontics really took off in the 1960s when specialists who had trained in London started returning home and setting up practices across New Zealand.

In the 1970s the degree of Master of Dental Surgery in Orthodontics at the University of Otago Dental School was established, opening the door to a new stream of orthodontic graduates. In 1986,  the New Zealand Association of  Orthodontists (NZAO) was created. It is now an internationally recognised body carrying out research, educational and monitoring programmes for orthodontists, general practitioners and the public.

  • About NZAO
  • History of orthodontics

About NZAO

The NZAO is the professional body of orthodontists in New Zealand. Our members commit to continuously improving their education and professional development in the art and science of orthodontics.



Orthodontists are dentists who have undertaken an additional 3 years of specialist university education in orthodontics. Specialist orthodontists are the only authorities with the knowledge and training to advise you on the full range of orthodontic options. You can be sure you’ll get the highest standards of care at all times. If you have any concerns about your orthodontist or your treatment,  you can find our complaints procedure here



We encourage you to speak directly to your orthodontist first. If you can’t resolve the problem that way,  please contact us at the NZAO office. We’ll give you advice and information about our complaints resolution procedure.


History of orthodontics

The word ‘orthodontics’ comes from Greek. ‘Ortho’ means to straighten or correct, while ‘odont’ comes from the Greek word odous, which means tooth. Archaeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Hippocrates was writing about ‘irregularities’ of teeth around 400 BC.



Pierre Fauchard, a French dentist, wrote about an orthodontic appliance in his 1728 book on dentistry, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on the Teeth. The bandeau was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal that was tied to the teeth to help align them. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then!



The first ever orthodontist – that is, a qualified dentist who limited their practice to moving teeth and aligning jaws – was Edward H. Angle, an American who is often thought of as the father of modern orthodontics.



In the early 1900s gold was often used to make orthodontic appliances, because it could be stretched and adjusted. Orthodontic treatment was reserved for the wealthy. The use of cheaper, stronger and more flexible wire alloys later in the 20th Century made orthodontic treatment more accessible to people. Today, orthodontic appliances can be made from different materials including metal, plastic and even ceramics.



Here, specialist orthodontics was recognised as a separate discipline from general dentistry as early as 1927, when the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics was formed as a study group of the New Zealand Dental Association. In New Zealand, orthodontics really took off in the 1960s when specialists who had trained in London started returning home and setting up practices across New Zealand.



In the 1970s the degree of Master of Dental Surgery in Orthodontics at the University of Otago Dental School was established, opening the door to a new stream of orthodontic graduates. In 1986,  the New Zealand Association of  Orthodontists (NZAO) was created. It is now an internationally recognised body carrying out research, educational and monitoring programmes for orthodontists, general practitioners and the public.