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‘Father of aesthetic dentistry’ dies at 92

October 26, 2016

Dr. Irwin Smigel, who has been referred to as the “Father of aesthetic dentistry,” died Oct. 17 at his Manhattan home. He was 92 years old.

Dr. Smigel advanced two techniques — laser whitening and bonding technique — that helped transform the appearance of teeth, according to the New York Times. His clients include celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Jimmy Fallon.

Born in Oct. 9, 1924, in Manhattan, Dr. Smigel was a second-generation dentist and graduated from New York University College of Dentistry. In a 2007 interview in the publication Dentistry Today, he said his interest in aesthetic dentistry began in dental school.

“When I was graduating dental school, they had an alumni day, and my father came,” he told Dentistry Today. “The dean of the school went over to my father and said, ‘Irwin is a good boy, he works hard, but he has some crazy ideas about cosmetics in dentistry. I think you out to straighten him out.’”

Instead, he continued to pursue and advance the field of aesthetic dentistry.

“From the beginning everything I did was based on making people look better,” he said in the 2007 Dentistry Today interview.

In 1976, Dr. Smigel founded and became president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. He published more than 110 articles on a range of aesthetic dentistry topics and invented (along with his wife Lucia) Supersmile Intelligent Smile Care, a tooth-whitening system.

In recognition of Dr. Smigel’s achievements in aesthetic dentistry, New York University College of Dentistry established the Smigel Prize in 2000 to honor his contributions to the field.

Dr. Smigel is survived by his wife Lucia, daughter Bellanca, son Robert, six grandchildren, and his sister Eileen Schrott.