Difference between general and cosmetic dentistry
20 Apr 2020

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The Difference Between General Dentistry and Cosmetic Dentistry

Dentistry — also known as oral medicine or dental medicine — is a branch of medicine that focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases or conditions affecting the oral cavity and related structures.

The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the word dentistry is usually the pearly whites that make up our smile, but teeth are not the only focus of dentistry. In fact, dentistry also encompasses many other craniofacial complexes.

The field of dentistry branches into a number of other types of dentistry, including general and cosmetic dentistry. One of the most common questions asked is, “What’s the difference between these two?”

General dentistry mainly focuses on the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with the oral cavity and its related structures. In contrast, cosmetic dentistry is aimed at improving the overall appearance of the teeth.

Although there are some fundamental differences between general and cosmetic dentistry, there are some areas of overlap between the two. Some patients may require dental procedures that fall into the realm of both cosmetic and general dentistry, such as a tooth extraction.

Tooth extraction to prevent tooth decay from spreading would fall under general dentistry. Once the procedure is completed, the appearance of the now-changed smile could be improved using porcelain veneers to replace the missing tooth, which would fall under cosmetic dentistry.

Overall, general dentistry focuses on medical concerns, whereas cosmetic dentistry takes an aesthetic approach in terms of treatment for your teeth and gums. If you’ve got a concern with your oral health or overall appearance of your teeth or gums, it’s important to understand the type of treatment you require and the right type of dentist that can help you.

General and Cosmetic Dentists: Qualifications

When you require a dental procedure, it’s no surprise that you would want an appropriately qualified individual to perform any treatments required.

Irrespective of the branch of dentistry that an individual may specialize in, all dentists have completed either a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. This means that whether an individual is a general dentist or has chosen to specialize in cosmetic dentistry, they are fully qualified to perform all types of dental procedures and provide the treatment you need.

Similar to medical doctors, all dentists begin their careers as general dentists. From this point, they can choose to specialize in any of the different branches of dentistry. In order to become a cosmetic dentist, a general dentist will be required to continue their training and attend all programs which focus on cosmetic dentistry.

What is general dentistry?

As mentioned, all dentists begin their practice as general dentists, which means their training allows them to attend to dental problems that are associated with discomfort, pain, and overall oral health.

Pain and discomfort in the teeth and gums can be a sign of any number of dental problems that can be treated by a general dentist, including root canals, tooth extractions, and cavity fillings. Most general dentists also offer a few cosmetic procedures, including in-office teeth whitening and bonding.

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Your smile is a very important focal point on your face, and the power of a smile isn’t to be underestimated. A clean set of white and perfectly aligned teeth can be a source of immense confidence for many who don’t already enjoy the luxury.

This is where the field of cosmetic dentistry comes into play. Cosmetic dentists can help improve the appearance of your teeth and gums and help you create a more pleasing smile, while not necessarily focusing on the health of your teeth.

Most cosmetic procedures are non-essential, but they can be very beneficial and effective in improving patient confidence and making it easier for future teeth cleanings.

Cosmetic dentists are specialized in procedures used to improve the way your teeth look. They perform procedures including:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Application of inlays
  • Application of porcelain veneers
  • Dentures
  • Application of tooth-coloured fillings
  • Fixed implants
  • Orthodontic procedures

Why cosmetic dentistry?

If cosmetic dentistry isn’t necessarily required or essential for your oral health, why do individuals opt to undergo cosmetic procedures?

The answer to this is simple and proves the importance that a smile can have in your life. In many cases, cosmetic dentistry procedures are performed simply to improve the quality of life of an individual who may be struggling with the appearance of their smile.

Confidence is very closely linked with the way your smile appears to the world, so if teeth are misaligned, stained, crowded, or there’s too much or too little gum tissue in your mouth, it can significantly impact your smile.

Individuals are much more likely to smile if they aren’t embarrassed by it. Cosmetic dentistry can provide you with the solution to almost any concern you may have with the appearance of your teeth, and in some cases, this comes with the bonus of improving your overall oral health.

Cosmetic procedures, such as orthodontic procedures, not only correct the alignment of your teeth but can also make it easier for you to floss and clean your teeth. Thus, decreasing your chances of tooth decay.

General and cosmetic dentistry, although unique in their own ways, share quite a few commonalities. They are interconnected with one area of dentistry, offering benefits and improvements for the other.

General dentistry offers a wide range of essential procedures that are required to maintain your oral and overall health, while cosmetic dentistry can help you achieve your dream smile.

To learn more about the differences between cosmetic and general dentistry, call Roots on Whyte Dental today at 888-602-2308 or contact us here.

Dr. William Yoo

A graduate of University of Sydney, Dr. Yoo joined the Roots on Whyte team after working on the West Coast and throughout Northern Canada. Dr. Yoo is passionate about oral care and holistic approaches to dentistry. His mission is to ensure each patient receives the best possible care during their visit at the clinic. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing and exploring Edmonton’s restaurant scene together with his wife, Kelly.

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