January 8, 2024

What is the Difference Between a Cosmetic Dentist and a Regular Dentist?

Understanding the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a regular dentist is essential when you're seeking dental treatment, as it helps you choose the right professional for your needs. This article will discuss the primary differences, focusing on their services, training, and the types of problems they solve.

Defining a Regular Dentist

A regular dentist, often called a general dentist, is your primary dental care provider. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and preventive education.

Services Offered by a General Dentist

The core services provided by a general dentist include:

  • Preventive Services: These services help maintain good oral health by stopping disease before it takes hold in your mouth. Regular exams, X-rays, and dental cleanings are some of the preventive services you can expect.
  • Restorative Services: When a problem is identified, your dentist will ensure you get timely and appropriate treatment. Commonly, these services include removing tooth decay, placing a filling in a tooth, and treating gum disease.
  • Overall Health Concerns: General dentists are concerned with more than just your teeth. They'll look for signs of oral cancer and discuss how your oral health might affect your overall health.

Defining a Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of a person's teeth, mouth, and smile. While general dentistry addresses dental problems that require necessary treatment, cosmetic dentistry provides elective – or desired – treatments or services.

Specializations of a Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic dentists are skilled in:

  • Teeth Whitening: This is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to improve your smile.
  • Dental Veneers: Made from medical-grade ceramic, dental veneers are custom-made caps that cover the front surface of the teeth.
  • Dental Bonding: In this procedure, a tooth-colored resin material is applied and hardened with a special light, ultimately "bonding" the material to the tooth to improve a person's smile.
  • Dental Crown: Also known as a cap, it fits over and replaces the entire decayed or damaged tooth above the gum line, restoring its shape, size, strength, and appearance.

Training and Education: Comparing the Two

Both general and cosmetic dentists typically complete four years of dental school. After receiving their undergraduate degree, they must pass rigorous tests and become licensed in the state where they intend to practice.

  • General Dentists: After dental school, they start practicing general dentistry immediately. They continue to update their education regularly to keep up with the latest in the field.
  • Cosmetic Dentists: These dentists also start as general dentists but choose to specialize further in cosmetic procedures. They have additional training and education in cosmetic procedures, which can vary widely in terms of what's offered and involves additional courses and certifications.

Choosing Between a Cosmetic Dentist and a General Dentist

Choosing between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist depends largely on your specific needs.

  • Visit a General Dentist for the following: Regular check-ups, hygiene, preventive care, and treatment of general dental problems.
  • Visit a Cosmetic Dentist for the following: Specific aesthetic or cosmetic improvements such as teeth whitening, veneers, or other procedures focused on the appearance of your smile.

Conclusion

While a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist may offer some overlapping services, they have different focuses. A general dentist is someone you would visit for regular check-ups and treatments, while a cosmetic dentist is someone you might consult for specific aesthetic improvements. Knowing the difference between the two can help you decide who to see for your particular dental needs. Whether it's maintaining overall dental health or making cosmetic changes, both types of dentists are essential in maintaining a healthy, bright smile.

 

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