What is the difference between general and cosmetic dentistry? It is a common question among patients within the world of dentistry, but the differing factors between these two practices are clear.

Knowing the difference will help you decide which services to search for when seeking general and cosmetic dentistry services. In overview, cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetic appearance of your smile, while general dentistry aims to treat and prevent oral disease.

Cosmetic Dentistry vs. General Dentistry Services

In general, you should continually seek out general dentistry services at least once a year to maintain proper dental hygiene.

Cosmetic dentists offer services focusing on the visual aspect of your smile. If you feel uncomfortable with your smile’s appearance and would like it corrected, a cosmetic dentist will be able to recommend and provide services depending on your specific desires.

In comparison, general dentists focus on dental issues, such as overall hygiene and relieving tooth pain. General dentists constantly evaluate your tooth health during regular cleanings, even if you are not experiencing an obvious dental issue, such as pain from a cavity or a root canal.

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Most general dentistry practices also offer limited cosmetic services, such as bonding and teeth whitening.

Cosmetic Dentistry Services in Detail

Cosmetic dentists provide a variety of services to fix the outer appearance of your smile. Some common services include:

  1. Teeth Whitening- The process of using specialized products to whiten your teeth without damaging the enamel.
  2. Inlays and Onlays- If tooth decay is uncorrectable with filings, inlays and onlays are set on the tooth’s surface when no damage to the tooth’s tip is present. Onlays cover the entire tooth, whereas inlays are set on the surface.
  3. Veneers- Ceramic false teeth are used to correct dental problems such as enamel damage and crooked teeth.

General Dentistry Services in Detail

General dentists first evaluate your overall dental health and then provide services depending on dental issues they uncover. With the wide number of dental issues that can occur, the list of dental services provided by a general dentist is expansive.

General dentists provide prevention services, such as regular cleaning and diagnostic x-rays. They restore decayed teeth, fill cavities, perform root canals, and educate you on proper hygiene practices.

Often, poor dental health leads to additional health complications. Your general dentist can identify these issues and will inform you when to see a doctor.

Difference in Education

The first stage of all dental education is to earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. This means that all dentists start out as general dental practitioners.

When a dentist decides to transfer to the practice of cosmetic dentistry, they must continue their education and attend a program specifically dedicated to cosmetic practices.

Do They Ever Work Together?

Since dental care is often complex and involves a combination of procedures, general and cosmetic dentistry often work together. Commonly, a patient will receive a general dentistry service, such as extracting a decayed tooth, and then see a cosmetic dentist to replace the missing tooth and restore their smile.

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