The Differences Between General and Cosmetic Dentistry

Posted by Dr. Michael Diez Jan 19, 2023

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Dentistry is a vast field of expertise, with many different kinds of care available. From routine teeth cleanings to veneers, skilled dentists can perform a number of procedures; some fall into the general dentistry category and some fall into the cosmetic dentistry category. General dentistry focuses on oral health care and maintenance, while cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the aesthetics of your smile.

You’re not alone if you’re confused about the differences between these two types of dental services. Here’s a brief guide to help you understand the distinction between general and cosmetic dentistry.

General Dentistry

General dentistry is a field of health care that focuses on the general maintenance of oral health and prevention of diseases and other issues. From regular exams to solving problems like cavities, tooth decay, or bad breath, general dentists work to ensure patients have healthy mouths.

Standard procedures offered by general dentists include cleanings, X-rays, fillings, root canals, and more. Prevention is key in this field of work which means working with patients to develop good habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing regularly.

General dentists also assist in diagnosing illnesses like oral cancer by examining the mouth and jaw area during checkups. With comprehensive exams each year and attention to every detail of your oral health, general dentistry can provide you with the best care throughout your lifetime.

General Dentistry Procedures

General dentistry focuses on preventative care and some of the most common procedures include:

  • Professional Teeth Cleanings: Regular cleanings remove plaque and tartar build-up that can cause gum disease and other oral health problems. Dentists usually recommend having professional cleanings every six months.
  • X-Rays: X-rays are used to diagnose any underlying dental issues, such as cavities or tooth decay.
  • Fluoride Treatments: Fluoride treatments strengthen and protect natural teeth from decay by filling in the tiny crevices caused by bacteria.
  • Fillings: Fillings are used to fill cavities due to decay or damage.
  • Root Canal Treatment: Most dentists use root canal treatment to remove an infection from a tooth’s pulp.
  • Wisdom Teeth Removal: Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are removed when they cause pain or overcrowding in the mouth.

Benefits of General Dentistry

Regular visits to a general dentist can help preserve your oral health and protect you from developing more serious conditions. It will give you an excellent oral health foundation. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Maintains Oral Health: Regular checkups and cleanings will help keep your teeth and gums healthy, reducing the risk of decay, gum disease, cavities, and other infections.
  • Prevents Serious Conditions: By detecting early signs of oral cancer and other diseases, general dentists can help prevent conditions from worsening or more serious conditions from developing.
  • Saves Money: Taking care of your oral health now will save you money in the future as dental procedures become more expensive the more complex they are.

Cost of General Dentistry

The cost of general dentistry can vary depending on the type of treatment and geographic location. Generally, regular cleaning is more affordable than a more complex procedure like root canal therapy or wisdom teeth removal. Patients can expect to shell out anywhere from $50 to as much as $2,000 for general dentistry treatments.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Meanwhile, cosmetic dentistry has become incredibly popular over the last few decades, allowing people to receive dental treatment while improving their smiles.

With advances in technology and techniques, a cosmetic dentist can make seemingly minor alterations to improve a person’s appearance. This can include whitening teeth, closing gaps between teeth, repairing chips or cracks, straightening crooked teeth, and even replacing missing teeth.

Whether you are looking for subtle changes or dramatic results, there’s a cosmetic dentistry solution for every budget and lifestyle. With the help of an experienced cosmetic dentist, you can enhance your smile confidently and with some great outcomes.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Cosmetic dentistry provides patients with an improved profile without resorting to invasive or uncomfortable treatments. Below are some of the cosmetic dentistry procedures available to you:

  • Dentures or False Teeth: When there are missing permanent teeth or badly decayed teeth, dentures can be used to restore a beautiful smile. These can be full or partial teeth replacements and can be made to look very natural.
  • Teeth Whitening: Professional whitening treatments are more effective than store-bought products and can dramatically brighten your smile.
  • Veneers: Veneers are thin shells that fit perfectly over the front of your teeth and can be an easy way to improve the appearance of yellowed or chipped teeth.
  • Dental Bonding: Dental bonding can fill in cracks, chips, or discolorations and restore the cosmetic appearance of your smile.
  • Dental Implants: A dental implant is a titanium post inserted into the jawbone in order to support artificial teeth or dentures. While they’re not really considered cosmetic, dental implants are a popular option for replacing missing teeth and improving the smile.

Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry

While cosmetic dentistry is usually seen as an elective procedure, there are more benefits than just cosmetic enhancement. Here are some of the other benefits that cosmetic dental treatments can provide:

  • Improved Self-esteem: Feeling confident about your smile can positively affect your self-esteem and overall mental health.
  • Improved Oral Health: Cosmetic dentistry can help improve the health of your teeth by correcting alignment issues and restoring missing or damaged teeth.
  • Prevent Future Damage: By repairing cosmetic issues, you can take preventative measures to keep your teeth healthy in the future.
  • Long-Lasting Results: Cosmetic dentistry is a permanent solution, meaning you can enjoy your new smile for years with proper maintenance.

Cost of Cosmetic Dentistry

Although they’re generally more expensive than restorative dentistry, cosmetic dental procedures have become increasingly popular and affordable in recent years. The cost really depends on how much change you are looking to make. From basic teeth whitening at under $200 to full smile makeovers costing upwards of $5,000 or more, the sky’s the limit when it comes to preserving or improving your oral health with a cosmetic dentist. Prices can also vary depending on your exact location and the type of treatment needed.

Your dentist can help you with maintaining your oral health and improving your smile’s appearance. Whether you want to have a basic cleaning, to replace missing teeth, or to get a complete dental makeover, they can advise which procedure would best benefit you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still trying to figure out what cosmetic and general dentistry entail or if it’s the right choice for you? Below are some frequently asked questions about both fields.

Is Orthodontic Treatment Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?

Orthodontic treatment is a form of dental care that focuses on correcting the alignment and positioning of the teeth. It is usually associated with braces and other devices created to realign the teeth to ultimately look better.

While this may appear to be a cosmetic procedure, orthodontics serves a greater purpose than simply giving someone a perfect smile. Properly aligned teeth make it easier for people to chew food and maintain proper oral hygiene.

Orthodontics can also help prevent tooth decay and gum disease caused by misaligned or crowded teeth that can often be difficult to brush efficiently.

All in all, orthodontic treatment has cosmetic benefits, but also helps with the general health of your mouth and jaw structure.

Do I Need to See a Cosmetic Dentist?

If you have ever been self-conscious about your teeth, it may be time to explore visiting a cosmetic dentist. Cosmetic dentists specialize in improving the appearance of your smile with treatments such as bonding and veneers.

Discussing the options with a cosmetic dentist can help you decide which procedure is best for you and can give you an idea of what results can typically be expected from each one.

When Do General and Cosmetic Dentistry Overlap?

In many cases, general and cosmetic dentistry overlap to give the patient the best possible outcome. A good example is when a dentist combines restorative dentistry – such as filling cavities or strengthening weakened teeth – with cosmetic procedures like whitening and veneers. When this happens, the patient can get health benefits from general dentistry and improved appearance from the cosmetic aspects.

The combination not only provides a better overall outcome for a healthy mouth, but it also tends to boost confidence. People feel better about their smiles when there are options available that can improve aesthetics and function.

When it comes to general and cosmetic dentistry, it’s up to the patient and their dentist to decide what works best for them.

Do I Need To Maintain My Oral Health After Cosmetic Dentistry?

While cosmetic dentistry treatments can give you a new smile with whiter, straighter teeth, it’s important to remember that oral health needs to come first.

Poorly maintained gums and teeth can negate the results of successful cosmetic dentistry, leaving you without the bright smile you hoped for. Good oral health is about more than what appears on the surface – it includes brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings and checkups, even after you’ve had cosmetic work done. Make sure to stick with these habits, so your beautiful new smile will last well into the future!

Final Thoughts

Although both general and cosmetic dentistry are important, it’s clear that they serve different purposes. General dentistry is all about preventative care and catching potential problems early on, while cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving teeth appearance.

Many dentists actually perform both types of dentistry. At General & Cosmetic Dentistry of Tampa, our skilled dentists are able to perform general care procedures and cosmetic procedures right in our offices. They are experienced and trained in everything from root canals to full mouth reconstruction.

If you would like to have an oral exam or would like to speak to an expert about getting a cosmetic procedure, reach out to General & Cosmetic Dentistry today. You can call or text us at 813-370-1014 (North Tampa) and 813-331-0364 (South Tampa). You can also contact us online.

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