Whereas general dentistry primarily focuses on oral hygiene and preventing and treating oral disease, cosmetic dentistry concentrates on improving the appearance of your mouth. Although cosmetic dentistry is considered separate from preventative treatment, many of the procedures can also provide restorative benefits. For example, receiving dental fillings or veneers can improve both the appearance and function of your teeth.
Treatments provided by cosmetic dentists include:
- Bonding. A mold that hardens to fill a crack or chip
- Teeth Whitening. A laser procedure that activates a stain-removing agent to whiten your teeth
- Veneers. A thin shell that covers and a damaged tooth
- Implants. Fake teeth are fastened and molded to the jaw in place of damaged or decayed teeth
- Mouth Reconstructions. A combination of two or more of these procedures, typically performed on heavily damaged mouths
Although cosmetic dentistry is often considered less “necessary” than preventative dentistry or the treatment of disease, cosmetic dentists have undergone the same training as general dentists and possess the same degrees and licenses. When a general dentist has graduated from a four-year undergraduate program and a four-year dental school, they may elect to continue their training in a specialty, which can include cosmetic dentistry.
If you are considering switching dentists and are interested in advanced cosmetic dentistry, look for a general dental provider who has received additional training in a variety of cosmetic treatments; if you find a dental provider you like who can provide cosmetic procedures, you won’t have to ask for a referral for a specialist for procedures that can be done in-house with your general practitioner.
Do I Need Cosmetic Dentistry?
While cosmetic dentistry comes with its own range of functional benefits, it isn’t for everybody. Because cosmetic dentistry often emphasizes non-essential procedures, many services aren’t covered by dental insurance and can be pricey. However, if you are in need of crowns for your implants, fillings for cracked or chipped teeth, your dentist can offer procedures that have significant medical advantages in addition to improved appearance.
Another important factor to take into account when electing cosmetic dentistry is the procedure itself. Ask your dentist about the steps involved in the procedure, including in-office time, anesthesia, and recovery time. Treatments such as implants typically require sedation and a few days or weeks of recovery, while teeth whitening or simple fillings may only require one visit and no recovery time. In either case, your dentist will likely recommend a consultation appointment in order to discuss your options and to walk you through the treatment process.