What is the Difference Between Cosmetic Dentistry and General Dentistry?

As a dentist, one of the most common questions I get asked is “What is the difference between cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry?” General dentistry is a practice that focuses on oral health. The goal of general dentistry is to prevent and treat oral disease. Cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, is meant to improve a person’s aesthetic appearance through enhancing their smile and the look of their teeth. Knowing exactly what it is you are looking for will help you to find the right professional for your individual needs.

The one commonality that both a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist have, however, is that they both have either a DDS or a DMD degree. So, if you choose a professional that specializes or treats cosmetic issues, they are able to handle any oral issue that you have. Both dentists start off with the same educational requirements. A cosmetic dentist is someone who just continues on to attend more training and specialization in the cosmetic dentistry field.

General Dentistry

A general dentist is a profession who deals primarily with overall dental health and the prevention and treatment of oral disease. They also help to address and manage problems that lead to discomfort, oral hygiene, and pain. Things that general dentists perform are treatments like root canals, fillings for cavities, cleaning and exams, and tooth extractions. General dentists are also qualified to deal with certain cosmetic procedures like teeth bonding, teeth whitening, and sometimes, Invisalign.

Cosmetic Dentistry

When someone wants to enhance their smile or the appearance of their teeth, they can seek out cosmetic dentists. Someone who is qualified to be a cosmetic dentist addresses the way that someone’s teeth look. Some of the treatments they perform are teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, fixed implants, onlays and inlays, smile makeovers and tooth-colored fillings.
There are many occasions where the qualifications of a cosmetic and general dentist will overlap. For instance, if a patient has severe tooth decay and needs for a tooth to be extracted, that would fall under the expertise of a general dentist. A general dentist would focus on removing the tooth to prevent the spread of infection. The result of the tooth extraction is an enhancement of the appearance of the patient’s teeth, which falls under the guise of cosmetic dentistry.

After tooth extraction, the patient can choose other procedures such as porcelain veneers, but that would fall under the specialty of a cosmetic dentist and is one step more than just extracting the tooth for oral health’s sake. So, there is no clear line between one specialty between one or the other besides advanced training on behalf of the cosmetic dentist.

At Tatum Dentistry, we provide a full-service dental experience addressing both general and cosmetic dental procedures. Our mission is to address all of your oral care needs and desires with the latest advances in dentistry, which is why we are always investing in state of the art treatments and equipment to offer the safest, most comfortable, and convenient experience to our patients possible. Contact our office to schedule your appointment today.

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