Biographical entry Begg, Percy Raymond (Raymond) (1898 - 1983)
Coolgardie, Western Australia, Australia
Percy Raymond (Raymond) Begg revolutionized the field of orthodontics with his introduction of the 'Light Arch Wire Technique' in 1961. He also made tooth extraction an integral part of the treatment. Previously teeth straightening was a long and painful process which involved the use of headgear and highly costly gold or platinum wires. Begg's method involved the use of lightweight, low force braces which were more affordable, less painful and required less manipulation and fewer visits to the dentists. This method was adopted across the world and was the forerunner of today's orthodontic techniques and braces. Raymond Begg received many honours and including the naming of two societies (The Begg Society of Orthodontists and the European Begg Society) and the Begg Orthodontic Unit at the Adelaide Dental Hospital after him.
Born in the Western Australian goldfields and educated in Adelaide, Percy Raymond Begg (Raymond) first worked as a jackaroo in the Australian outback. He then joined the Australian Imperial Force, but after contracting influenza was invalided out of the army in c.1918. Begg moved to Melbourne and graduated in Dentistry from the University of Melbourne in 1923. Having acquired an interest in orthodontics he wanted to learn from the expert in the field so applied to the Angle School of Orthodontia in Pasadena, USA. Raymond Begg was one of the lucky few to be accepted and remained at the School from March 1924 to November 1925.
Upon his return to Australia, Begg established Adelaide's only orthodontic practice and completed a Doctorate of Dental Sciences at the University of Adelaide where he studied the skulls of Aborigines to see how diet and normal grinding processes affected dentition. For 25 years Begg's practice remained the only one in Adelaide and he continually came up with new designs for orthodontics. He acquired the services of metallurgist Arthur J Wilcock to produce stainless steel and other wires, including titanium, for his braces. This collaboration resulted in the creation of the Begg Light Arch Wire appliance which made orthodontics more affordable, simpler and less painful and obtrusive.
- Murray, James, Lifework: Heroes of Australian Health, Focus Publishing for [Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Ltd], Edgecliff, NSW, 1997, 160 pp. Details
- Simms, Milton R., 'Raymond Begg (1898-1983). Obituary', American Journal of Orthodontics, vol. 83, no. 5, 1983, pp. 445-446. Details
Created: 9 May 2006, Last modified: 7 February 2011