Tracing the History of Cosmetic Dentistry | Dr. Alex Midtown NYC Cosmetic Dentist

Tracing the History of Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in the last few decades. We now have a variety of procedures that guarantee perfect smiles. They include veneers, implants, aligners and many others. However, this advance in cosmetic dentistry has taken time to grow to what it is now.

People often don’t realize that cosmetic dentistry stretches back thousands of years ago when early civilizations realized that teeth look great when they are brushed and cleaned every day. As far back as 3,000 years ago, people were using twigs to brush their teeth.

Ancient Civilizations

As far back as 700 AD, there is evidence that old civilizations were using ivory and bone to make dentures in order to replace missing teeth. Other cultures used teeth that were donated or sold by live human donors or were extracted from dead people and animals. There are obvious limitations to using these kinds of dentures. For example, some of the materials listed above got rotten pretty quickly. The practice, however, lasted for hundreds of years.

Other cultures such as the Egyptians drove seashells into their gums to replace their teeth. It is however not clear if this practice was done while the patient was alive or if the shells were hammered into gums of dead people as part of the burial preparation. The Egyptians also made toothpaste out of pumice stone and vinegar and scrubbed their teeth with the resulting paste.

Middle Ages

In the 14th century, the use of bone and ivory to make dentures finally caught on in Europe and but the same problems that had plagued the Egyptians thousands of years before continued to make these materials problematic. European dentists experimented with human teeth but these also did not work.

The breakthrough came when they discovered that porcelain dentures worked better and the first of these were fitted on a patient in the 17th century. The following century, porcelain dentures were being fitted in the United States. The discovery of Vulcanite, a soft rubber helped make dentures easier to wear as it made a great base for the porcelain dentures. In 1903, porcelain was fused with metal to make stronger dentures and eventually, dentists discovered plastics and acrylics worked just as well.


In the nineties, the focus of dentistry turned to reducing the pain during procedures as well as creating more natural looking smiles. Today, there are all sorts of advancements in composite fillings, teeth alignment, and dental implants. The old metal braces have given way to clear aligners such as Invisalign that make teeth alignment easy and the treatment less noticeable.

Dental veneers have also grown in popularity after their unlikely invention in the thirties as a temporary fix for film stars with stained teeth. Today, veneers are thinner, stronger and last much longer than they did during their onset.

If you are looking for an experienced cosmetic dentist, look no further than Dr. Alex Rubinov of New York City. Dr. Rubinov has helped numerous patients achieve a perfect smile through a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures. Contact the practice at (718) 253-0800 for an appointment.

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