When looking for a dentist, you might have come across two terms: general dentist and cosmetic dentist. What type of dentist should you choose? How does a dentist become cosmetic versus general? Read on to find out the ins and outs of general and cosmetic dentists. Once you know these distinctions, you know which kind of dentist to choose for your dental needs. Here are some common questions about the differences between cosmetic and general dentistry.

What is General Dentistry?

mother and daughter hugging close with smilesA general dentist focuses on keeping your teeth healthy. They prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, conditions, and disorders in your mouth. They’re usually the dentist you’d see for your cleanings twice yearly. What most people don’t know is that all dentists are general dentists! When a dentist gets their DMD or DDS, they are considered a general dentist. Other focuses, such as cosmetic dentistry, are additional postgraduate schooling.

You might see different distinctions for dentists. Some may be DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), but they’re the same degree, and both are general dentists.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is a focus of dentistry. A cosmetic dentist’s main job is to improve the appearance of your teeth, gums, and bite. This includes the color, shape, position, size, alignment, and overall smile appearance.

Some dentists call themselves “cosmetic dentists” without obtaining additional education, but if you’re genuinely looking for cosmetic dentistry, choose a dentist who has had extra schooling. You should be able to find this in their bio.

Cosmetic dentists have the same base education as general dentists because they are general dentists. You can see a cosmetic dentist for cleanings, root canals, and gum disease treatment. They’ll focus on keeping your teeth healthy (because they’re general dentists) and the appearance of your smile. It’s the best of both worlds.

What does a Cosmetic Dentist do?

A cosmetic dentist can perform all the general dentist’s services, but they do it with an appearance-based focus. They’ll correct appearance problems such as

  • Discolored teeth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Cracked teeth
  • Worn teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Missing teeth

Many times, cosmetic procedures help the function of your teeth, too. But be aware things like porcelain veneers and teeth whitening are considered purely cosmetic procedures by your insurance because they don’t necessarily help with the function of your teeth. However, there are instances when porcelain veneers do.

Do they have different training?

Both general dentists and cosmetic dentists have the same base training. They’re general dentists! However, many cosmetic dentists have additional training that certifies them with procedures such as Invisalign, laser dentistry, advanced dental implant training, and overall mastership cosmetic training.

Does a cosmetic dentist cost more?

Cosmetic dentists don’t necessarily cost more. It has more to do with the procedure or service you choose. If you’re going to a cosmetic dentist for general practice services, like a cleaning, they’re likely around the same price. However, many cosmetic dentists have financing options for more costly services.

Can a dentist be both cosmetic and general?

Yes! All cosmetic dentists are also general dentists. They’ll be able to perform all the services that a general dentist does, but they emphasize appearance and the function of your teeth, gums, jaws, and smile. Just as you’d want a plastic surgeon to stitch up a visible wound, you’ll want a cosmetic dentist to ensure that your smile looks as great as it feels.

How do I get an appointment in Spokane Valley?

At Collins Dentistry and Aesthetics, we are general with a cosmetic focus. We focus on giving you the best possible smile. That means we pay attention to the health and function of your mouth and the appearance of your smile. Choose Dr. Ken and Marnie Collins in Spokane Valley if you want a beautiful, functional smile. Call (509) 927-2273 or make an appointment online today.