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General Dentist vs. Cosmetic Dentist, is there a difference?

Many of our patients ask about the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist or you may find yourself asking: “Should I visit a general dentist or, a cosmetic dentist?”

Quite a variety of dental fields exist today, and two of the most popular professionals in this industry are general and cosmetic dentists. In most instances, patients needing dental work or wanting to see if they have cavities will visit a general dentist who is skilled in providing basic and preventive procedures first. Patients concerned about how their teeth look are more inclined to make an appointment with a cosmetic dentist who is skilled in providing treatments that make the teeth look whiter, brighter, and more natural in appearance. But should you have to choose one or the other? Both general and cosmetic dentists have the skills needed to complete an array of commonly performed dental procedures that are simple or complex in nature.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

By definition Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance of teeth, gums and/or bite. It primarily focuses on improvement in dental aesthetics in color, position, shape, size, alignment and overall smile appearance. But is it a specialty? Well, the answer is NO!

Did you know that the American Dental Association (ADA) does not officially recognize cosmetic dentistry as a specialty?

 As a matter of fact, many dentists just choose to focus on the more artistic aspects of dentistry and are only considered cosmetic dentists by their patients, peers, and mentors.

Cosmetic Dentistry is NOT a specialty

Typically, a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist have the same training and education.  They both perform general treatments such as regular checkups, fillings and dental crowns. They can fix cavities and repair teeth. You can also get hygiene appointments and teeth whitening treatment in either type of office. 

Of course there are always courses and extra education one can take to become a “specialist” in any field but the point is a general dentist should have the capacity and training to be considered a cosmetic dentist and should offer both general and cosmetic dentistry procedures. After all, wouldn’t you want your cosmetic dentist to be able to do all aspects of dentistry, such as implants and root canals if your cosmetic case requires it prior or post cosmetic treatment?

You shouldn’t have to look for different dentists for these types of treatment. As many general dentists say they perform cosmetic dentistry but are just not as well trained. 

In many cases, there is a cosmetic component that is necessary to restorative procedures. For example, if a patient comes in after receiving an injury that chipped a front tooth, the tooth needs to be restored to prevent decay. The tooth is also less structurally sound, so it is vulnerable to further damage. In addition, the tooth affects the overall appearance of the smile. Depending on the specifics of the damage, there are several restorative options. Dental bonding, porcelain veneers and crowns are all used to repair a damaged tooth.

As you can see, there is not always a definitive line between general and cosmetic dentistry. It’s important to do your homework, always ask to see before and after photos of the doctor’s work he or she has done and always follow your instincts, it’s important to trust and be confident in the dentist you choose.

If you are looking for a full service practice in Los Angeles, I invite you to come into Mulholland Dental Care. We are located at 23305 Mulholland Dr unit e, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. To schedule an oral examination or smile makeover consultation, call (818) 222-5566