Any type of dental work that is performed to improve the appearance of an individual’s teeth and not necessarily their function or their bite and the gums is usually called cosmetic dentistry. There are a number of dentists today that call themselves “cosmetic dentists” regardless of what their education, specialty, and training or their experience is. The ADA (American Dental Association) considers this unethical as the field of cosmetic dentistry is not recognized as a specialize area of dentistry.
The two recognized fields of cosmetic dentistry
Today, there are only two specialty fields in the dental industry that focus on dental cosmetics or esthetics. These are:
Orthodontics – focuses on studying and treating improper bites that result from disproportionate jaw relationships and tooth irregularity.
Prosthodontics – focuses on the following elements of individuals who have clinical conditions that are associated with deficient or missing teeth and their health:
o maintenance and rehabilitation of oral functions
o planning treatment
Prosthodontics is also known as dental prosthetics or prosthetic dentistry and is one of 9 specialty fields that is recognized by the ADA. Additionally, those dentists that specialize in these two fields are referred to as Orthodontists and Prosthodontists.
Common dentistry procedures
There are seven common dentistry procedures practiced in the field of dental hygiene today including:
o Bite reclamation
o Dental bridges (false teeth)
o Gum lifting
o Tooth reshaping
o Whitening (tooth bleaching)
Additionally, cosmetic dentistry oftentimes involving adding a dental material to the gums or teeth such as bonding, caps or crowns, gum drafts, and laminates such as porcelain veneers. It may also involve the removal of gum tissue or teeth; not removing or adding any dental materials, gum tissue, or tooth structure; and teeth straightening.
Cosmetic dentistry benefits
The improvement of the appearance of an individual’s mouth, smile, and teeth is primarily the core focus of cosmetic dentistry. While having an attractive and healthier smile impacts your health, personal and professional relationships, and self esteem, the most common benefits include:
Another benefit of cosmetic dentistry is the restorative nature of the procedures. As an example, materials that match the teeth are now used for fillings instead of the amalgam, gold, and silver that were used in the past.
Choosing the right cosmetic dentist
In order to have cosmetic dentistry performed properly and to your benefit, it is wise to select the right dentist. Start by asking your family dentist or doctor if they know a good cosmetic dentist. When you do find one, make sure that they are certified and licensed by the state as well as having proper credentials and the right training.
If you can, talk to former patients of the cosmetic dentist and get their opinion of the cosmetic dentistry that was performed. Once you have selected the right dentist based on the above, schedule a consultation with them. Be sure to ask questions about the details of the procedure and their experience as well as financing and payment options available.