While most people often use the two terms synonymously, there exists a clear cut difference between family / general dentistry and cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry.
Cosmetic dentistry is a branch of dental sciences or general dentistry which is usually performed to improve and / or enhance the looks and functionality of the teeth, gums or external mouth (oral) appearance. It is also, sometimes, known as aesthetic dentistry.
The basic aim or goal of cosmetic dentistry is to improve appearance of the teeth, facial features, mouth and smile.
Unlike general or family dentistry or surgery, cosmetic dentistry is mostly an elective procedure i.e. is based on patient’s own choice and is often optional. Family or general dentistry, on the other hand, is based on “patient’s need” and is aimed at preventing or corrective a certain gum or teeth related problem or disease.
Some of the frequently performed cosmetic dentistry procedures include:
In addition, cosmetic dentistry can also be used to modify or improve shape, texture, straightness, color and consistency of the teeth.
A cosmetic dental surgeon or cosmetic dentist is a dental doctor who, after getting a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, can go on to get extra qualification and training in various specialties such as teeth whitening, bleaching and bonding, porcelain veneers, dental implants, crowns, braces and bridges. In addition to learning the basics of the treatments offered to patients, aesthetic dentistry also requires an artistic touch that may be inherent in some dentists and acquired in others.
While cosmetic dentistry costs are highly variable and depend upon the dentist’s skills, expertise, procedure and other expenses, majority of cosmetic dentistry procedures are now considered economical and affordable for most patients.
While some insurance firms may provide coverage for a few cosmetic dental procedures, most cosmetic procedures are not covered. For example, some purely cosmetic like teeth whitening and majority of veneer cases are not covered by dental insurance. On the other hand, however, procedures such as fixing of a chipped tooth or cavity can be covered.
Today, with the advent of modern technology, cosmetic dentistry offers even more sophisticated use of technologies such as lasers. Because of this convenience, feasibility and ease-of-performance, cosmetic dental procedures can now be safely and quickly performed in any dental office as an out patient procedure.