General Dentistry Vs. Cosmetic Dentistry; What Are They and The Differences Between the Them?

General Dentistry Vs. Cosmetic Dentistry; What Are They and The Differences Between the Them?

Dec 01, 2021

What is the difference between cosmetic and general dentistry in Worcester, MA? is a question we frequently hear from patients in our profession. General dentistry focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating oral diseases, while cosmetic dentistry concerns the whole dental appearance. Knowing the distinction between the two might help you know which service or dentist is best suited to handle your dental needs.

It is worth noting that regardless of the specialization, all dentists have earned either a DDS or DMD degree. This means that they are all qualified to treat any dental problem. All dentists start as general dentists and specialize later.

What is General Dentistry?

Dentistry, in general, is the branch of medicine that deals with dental issues linked to oral hygiene, pain, and discomfort. It generally includes procedures like tooth extraction and root canals. General dentists are the first line of dental care for all age groups.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic Dentistry is also known as smile design, enhancement, or makeover. This term refers to any treatment that improves the appearance of your teeth or gums, including veneers, crowns, bridges, and bleaching with tooth whitening. The benefit is not just in offering an improved smile but also in improving self-image and confidence. This can lead to a marked improvement in one’s personal and professional life.

Interestingly, cosmetic dentistry is not of the ADA-approved specialized dental areas. However, cosmetic dentists get training on how to perform most smile makeover procedures.

What Are the General Dentistry Services?

General dental procedures are classified into preventive and restorative.

  • Preventive dental procedures

These procedures are responsible for protecting teeth from future decay. The main types of preventive dental procedures are fluoride treatments, fissure sealants, and exams (which include x-rays) that detect early signs of tooth decay or problems with the shape or placement of your teeth.

  • Restorative dental procedures

Restorative dental procedures repair damage caused by tooth decay. Restorative procedures can be completed by a general dentist or an oral surgeon. The dentist will consider your ability to maintain good oral hygiene when deciding if you should have a crown, root canal, extraction, or other procedures. Dental implants and bridges are also used to restore the function of the teeth by replacing the missing teeth.

Your general dentist can also offer basic cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, bonding, and veneers.

What Are the Cosmetic Dentistry Services?

Cosmetic dental procedures improve the appearance of teeth that may not be fully functional but do not need a full replacement. Cosmetic dentistry is not necessary for your health, but it can improve your smile and enhance your facial appearance. Procedures include:

  • Teeth whitening. This procedure uses a chemical process to remove stains and discoloration from your teeth. Teeth whitening procedures involve placing a bleaching gel on the teeth for about 15 minutes and rinsing it out.
  • Dental bonding. Cosmetic dental bonding is used to repair teeth that are chipped, misaligned, or worn down. It uses a composite resin material that is placed over the tooth and then shaped. The cosmetic dental bonding procedure can take up to two office visits for your cosmetic dentist to complete.
  • If you have weak and worn-out teeth, the dentist may use veneers or crowns. Dental crowns fit over a tooth to improve its structure and appearance. Veneers are thin pieces of customized color, shape, and size made from porcelain or resin that fit over the front surface of your teeth for cosmetic purposes.

When do Cosmetic and General Dental Procedures Overlap?

There are several places where the line between general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry becomes unclear. Dental veneers, for example, are considered cosmetic since they hide damaged or stained teeth, but they might also be classified as restorative because they protect the surface of a tooth from harm.
Other times when cosmetic and general dentistry overlap include:

  • Dental dentures improve the appearance of your mouth by filling in gaps. At the same time, they help with biting difficulties and speech impediments.
  • Dental implants, which are a type of replacement dentistry that can enhance the functionality and appearance of a patient’s teeth, may alter a person’s life in terms of both function and appearance.
  • Dental crowns are used as part of dental implants, bridges, and root canal procedures, which are restorative dental services.

Who Should You Visit–A General or Cosmetic Dentist?

Typically, people will seek dental care based on their dental needs or dental pain. Others may realize they want to improve the look but are not sure if a dental makeover is suitable for them. Knowing the difference between general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry can help you decide which type of dental care is best for you.

Visit Lee Family Dental Care for more information on the difference between general and cosmetic dentist.

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