I had a phase in high school in which I was all about getting back to what I thought were “simpler times”. I would look back at whatever the pioneers or cowboys did, and thought that this was a model for simpler living. I became a little disillusioned with this when my father asked me what the cowboys would have done about braces. It certainly seems a little unappealing, to say the least. Technology is a wonderful thing that allows us to (eventually) use fewer resources to do better things by constructing smart machines. And orthodontics has been a recipient of these innovations. The technology used in orthodontics has made the process cheaper, more comfortable, and shortened the duration of the process. Braces are now more accessible to other people that could not previously access them. As the systems that we use in orthodontics improve, we have to use fewer resources throughout the process. This means that it is ultimately cheaper. If it is cheaper for the doctors and staff, then they can afford to sell their services at a cheaper price. The result of this is that more people are able to access braces than ever before. This means that more children have the opportunity to have straight, healthy teeth later in life. It also means that more adults that did not have the opportunity as a child are able to get braces put on in their later years. They still have the opportunity to have neat, symmetric teeth. Adults wearing braces is a pretty common procedure nowadays. Gone are the days of only teens wearing braces. Another way that technology has improved (and will continue to improve) orthodontics is by making it more comfortable. Invisalign braces is a great example of an innovation that has made braces more comfortable socially and physically. Invisalign is a form of braces that are transparent and set across the face of the teeth not unlike a mouth guard would. This means, first, that people can hardly notice them. While everyone should have stoic resolve and not give a single care about what others think about the appearance of their teeth, we live in the real world. And these are great for those of us that do care that we have a large, metallic contraption in our mouths. For us, invisalign is great. But it is also more comfortable. Think about about the gap between the comfortable of invisalign braces and whatever was used back in the pioneer days. I think that this underscores the point that different technologies work together in creating the machinery of modernity. And this machinery ultimately makes our lives more comfortable and easier. But it also lightens the demand put upon resources that we used to do our activities. By creating smart machines that increase efficiency, we can find new and creative ways to do more with less. And in an age of economic strain and environmental crisis, we can use all of the technological innovations that we can get our hands on, even in orthodontics.