Cosmetic Dentistry vs General Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry vs General Dentistry

Understanding the vast field of dentistry can often feel overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure whether you need to seek out a general dentist or a cosmetic dentist. Your dental health is critically important, and knowing who to turn to can make a world of difference.

We’re here to help you understand the differences between general and cosmetic dentistry and guide you in choosing the right dentist for your needs.

General Dentistry vs. Cosmetic Dentistry

Both general and cosmetic dentists must attend dental school and obtain the proper licenses in order to practice dentistry. Their education is similar, but cosmetic dentists usually have additional training in cosmetic treatments.

You can think of a general dentist like your primary care doctor, but for your teeth. They focus primarily on preventive dental care and routine dental procedures that maintain your overall oral hygiene. Their dental services typically include regular check-ups, cleanings, and treatments designed to prevent or slow down tooth decay and gum disease.

Cosmetic dentists, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with the aesthetics of your teeth. Cosmetic procedures focus on improving the appearance of your teeth, gums, and overall smile. It’s important to note, however, that many cosmetic dentists also practice general dentistry and can still carry out routine dental care procedures.

Preventive Services Offered by a General Dentist

General dentists offer a broad range of preventive services aimed at maintaining good oral health and catching potential issues before they become significant problems. Here are a few:

      • Regular Check-ups: These usually occur twice a year and allow the dentist to monitor your oral health and catch early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or other oral health issues.

      • Professional Cleanings: Also typically done twice a year, a professional cleaning removes plaque and tartar buildup that you can’t eliminate with at-home brushing and flossing alone.

      • Fluoride Treatments: Fluoride is a mineral that can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent decay. Dentists often provide professional fluoride treatments, especially for children, to further protect teeth.

      • Dental Sealants: This is a preventive treatment in which a thin, protective coating is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.

      • X-rays: Dental X-rays are imaging tests that allow the dentist to see beneath the surface of your teeth and gums to identify any hidden issues that may be starting to develop, such as cavities between teeth or problems with the jawbone.

      • Oral Cancer Screenings: During regular check-ups, a dentist can also perform an oral cancer screening. This involves an examination of your mouth, cheeks, and throat to detect any signs of oral cancer.

      • Oral Hygiene Education: Part of prevention is teaching patients how to take care of their teeth and gums at home. This includes instruction on proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as advice on diet and lifestyle choices that can impact oral health.

    Restorative Services Offered by a General Dentist

    Restorative dentistry is a key component of general dentistry, aimed at restoring the function and aesthetics of your teeth when damage or loss occurs. Here are some restorative services that general dentists provide:

        1. Fillings: One of the most common restorative procedures, fillings are used to repair teeth with cavities or minor fractures. The dentist will remove the decayed or damaged part of the tooth and fill the area with a material like composite resin, amalgam, gold, or ceramic.

        1. Crowns: A dental crown, or cap, is used to cover a damaged tooth entirely. It strengthens the tooth and improves its appearance, shape, and alignment. Crowns are commonly used for teeth that are broken, worn, or partially destroyed by tooth decay.

        1. Bridges: Dental bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. They are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space, which serve as anchors for the bridge.

        1. Dental Implants: Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. They are surgically implanted into the jawbone and serve as an anchor for a replacement tooth or a bridge.

        1. Dentures: These are removable replacements for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They can be complete (replacing all teeth) or partial (replacing a few teeth).

        1. Root Canal Treatment: This procedure is done when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp is damaged. The inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed to preserve the tooth structure and prevent extraction.

        1. Extractions: Sometimes a tooth may need to be removed due to severe decay, disease, or trauma. After extraction, the dentist will discuss options for replacing the tooth, such as implants, bridges, or dentures.

        1. Gum Disease Treatment: Also known as periodontal therapy, this can involve deep cleanings (scaling and root planing), medication, or surgery to treat and manage gum disease.

      Typical Procedures in Cosmetic Dentistry

      Cosmetic dentists specialize in procedures that improve the aesthetics of your smile. While many of these procedures also have restorative benefits, the primary goal is to create a more visually appealing smile.

          1. Teeth Whitening: This is one of the simplest and most common cosmetic dentistry procedures. Over time, teeth can become stained or discolored due to factors like food, drink, tobacco use, and aging. Cosmetic dentists offer professional teeth whitening treatments that can significantly brighten your smile.

          1. Veneers: Veneers are thin shells, typically made of porcelain, that are bonded to the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance. They can be used to fix teeth that are discolored, chipped, broken, irregularly shaped, or have gaps between them.

          1. Bonding: During a bonding procedure, a tooth-colored resin material is applied to your tooth and then hardened with a special light, effectively “bonding” the material to the tooth to improve your smile. It can be used to repair decayed, chipped, broken, or misshapen teeth, or to reduce gaps between teeth.

          1. Dental Crowns: While crowns are often used for restorative purposes, they can also serve a cosmetic function by covering discolored or misshapen teeth.

          1. Inlays and Onlays: Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are made from porcelain or composite materials and provide a long-lasting, cosmetic way to fill a tooth with tooth decay or similar structural damage.

          1. Dental Implants: If you have a missing tooth, dental implants provide a replacement that closely mimics the look and function of a natural tooth.

          1. Orthodontics: Braces or clear aligners (such as Invisalign) can be used to straighten misaligned or crowded teeth and improve the appearance of your smile.

          1. Gum Contouring: If your gums rest too low or too high on your teeth and you’re unhappy with your smile, you might be a candidate for gum contouring, also called gum reshaping or tissue sculpting.

        Always About Smiles Offers a Wide Range of General and Cosmetic Dental Procedures

        Whether you need preventative care or a smile makeover, the dental professionals at Always About Smiles are here to help with any of your oral health concerns. We offer a range of services to meet the needs of your whole family. Give us a call today and take the first step towards a healthier smile!