There are several categories of dentistry, each specializing in treating certain conditions. Two of the most popular categories of dentistry include cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the aesthetics of your smile, while general dentistry focuses on preventing, detecting, and treating dental problems. Knowing the difference between these two can help determine which type is right for your oral health needs.
What is a Cosmetic Dentist?
Cosmetic dentists specialize in improving the look of your smile. They can perform a variety of cosmetic procedures, including teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, bonding, crowns and bridges, implants, and more. In addition to cosmetic improvements to your teeth, they can help with gum reshaping or contouring, tooth straightening, and other dental treatments that make your smile look brighter and healthier.
Cosmetic dentists undergo extensive training to ensure they are qualified and capable of providing quality dental care. They have graduated from an accredited dental school and hold a valid state license to practice. They also have additional certifications or specializations in cosmetic dentistry, such as Advanced Education in General Dentistry or accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Common Procedures Offered by Cosmetic Dentist
#1. Teeth Whitening Treatment
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures a cosmetic dentist performs. Teeth whitening involves bleaching the teeth to remove surface stains and discoloration caused by aging, certain foods and beverages, and poor oral hygiene. During a teeth whitening treatment, your cosmetic dentist will apply a bleaching gel to your teeth, breaking down the pigments that cause staining. Depending on your needs, you may require multiple whitening sessions to achieve the desired results.
#2. Dental Crowns
A crown is a cap-like restoration used to cover and support a damaged tooth. It is designed to provide protection and strength and improve the affected tooth’s appearance. The crown is made of porcelain or metal, and it fits over the entire visible portion of your natural tooth, providing a strong barrier against further decay or damage.
#3. Dental Implants
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed into the jawbone and functions as a replacement for a natural tooth root. The implant then acts as an anchor for an artificial crown, bridge, or denture to replace the missing tooth. Dental implants provide a secure and permanent solution to missing teeth, and they can help maintain the health of your jawbone.
#4. Dental Veneers
Dental veneers are thin shells made of porcelain or composite resin bonded to the front surface of your teeth. They can be used to cover a wide range of dental issues such as chipped, discolored, misshapen, or misaligned teeth to improve your smile’s appearance. Veneers can also be used to close gaps between teeth and change the shape and length of your teeth.
#5. Dental Bonding
Tooth bonding is a cosmetic treatment that involves applying tooth-colored resin to the teeth to repair chips, cracks, and gaps in your smile. During the procedure, your dentist will use an etching solution to roughen the surface of the affected tooth before applying the adhesive resin. The resin is then hardened using a special light and shaped to the desired form. Dental bonding can be used to restore minor damage and improve the appearance of teeth without the need for more extensive dental work.
#6. Dental Bridges
A dental bridge is a dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth or multiple teeth. A bridge consists of two crowns placed on either side of the gap created by the missing tooth and a pontic (artificial tooth) connected between them to fill the gap. The crowns are fixed onto the adjacent teeth for support and the pontic looks and functions like a natural tooth. A dental bridge is a permanent solution to missing teeth, and it can help restore your bite, improve your smile, and prevent further dental problems.
What is a General Dentist?
General dentists provide comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. They diagnose and treat various dental problems, such as cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. In addition to providing preventive care services like regular cleanings and checkups, they perform restorative procedures like fillings and root canals. General dentists may also offer some cosmetic dentistry services like teeth whitening or bonding.
General dentists must complete four years of dental school to become licensed practitioners. After graduating from an accredited dental school, they must also pass the National Board Dental Examinations and state or regional clinical examinations to obtain their license. To stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in dentistry, many general dentists also pursue additional training so that they specialize in a particular field.
Common Types of General Dental Services
#1. Preventive Care Services
Preventive care services help to keep your mouth healthy by preventing dental problems from developing in the first place. Common preventive services include regular checkups, professional teeth cleanings, and fluoride treatments. During a routine cleaning, a hygienist will remove plaque and tartar buildup to prevent cavities and gum disease. Fluoride treatments help strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to decay.
#2. Restorative Services
Restorative treatments involve repairing and restoring the function of teeth that have been damaged by disease, trauma, or decay. Common restorative dentistry procedures include cavity fillings, crowns, bridges, and root canals. Fillings are used to repair cavities, while crowns and bridges can be used to replace missing teeth. Root canals are needed when the nerve inside a tooth has become infected and must be removed.
Should You See a General Dentist or a Cosmetic Dentist?
The answer to this question largely depends on your individual dental needs and goals. A general dentist is likely the best choice if you are looking for preventive care services, such as regular checkups and professional cleanings. However, if you seek to improve the aesthetic appearance of your teeth with treatments such as veneers or bonding, you should see a cosmetic dentist. Ultimately, it is essential to speak with your dentist to determine which type of dentist best suits your dental health needs.