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What is a Cosmetic Dentist and What Do They Do?

By February 8, 2022February 16th, 2022Blog, Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic Dentist

What is a Cosmetic Dentist and What Do They Do?

You’ve probably heard the terms “cosmetic dentist” and “cosmetic dentistry.” In fact, we offer cosmetic dentistry in Naperville, IL at our practice. But what exactly is a cosmetic dentist and what do cosmetic dentists do? Are they the professional to turn to for cavities or do they only fix esthetic concerns? In this post, the team at Naperville Dental Specialists will be delving into the topic to give you a better understanding of this area of dentistry. 

What is a Cosmetic Dentist?

Cosmetic dentistry is also called esthetic dentistry. A cosmetic dentist is a doctor who focuses on improving the appearance of teeth and gums to create a beautiful smile. While esthetics might be the main goal, as a dental professional, they also ensure treatment complements the oral and overall health of the patient.

As for how to become a cosmetic dentist, the training is the same as that of a general dentist, because, technically, a cosmetic dentist is a general dentist. They attend four years of dental school where they earn their Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. 

While cosmetic dentistry isn’t a dental speciality like orthodontics or prosthodontics and doesn’t require attending a residency program, cosmetic dentists take courses and seminars in cosmetic dentistry. Others, such as those at Naperville Dental Specialists, are members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and do much more extensive training in esthetic smile design and advanced cosmetic procedures.

What Do Cosmetic Dentists Do?

Do cosmetic dentists do surgery? Do cosmetic dentists do braces? We get these questions a lot. While, yes, cosmetic dentists do surgery, such as periodontal plastic surgery and some even offer dental implants, it’s usually advisable for patients to see a specialist like an oral surgeon, periodontist or prosthodontist, especially if they have a complex case. Specialists complete an additional two to three years of rigorous training in a residency program after dental school and the sole focus of their practice is that of their specialty. 

And, yes, cosmetic dentists do also sometimes offer braces or Invisalign®. But, again, seeing a specialist is your best bet. An orthodontist also completes specialty training in a residency program, giving them the expertise to straighten the teeth and align the bite in the healthiest, most effective way possible. 

So, what do cosmetic dentists do? They treat a variety of concerns, such as discolored, chipped, misshapen, misaligned and missing teeth with the goal of helping your smile look its absolute best. Common cosmetic dental services include teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, cosmetic dental bonding, crowns and bridges. A cosmetic dentist combines art and science to design a smile that looks amazing and functions just as well.  

Most cosmetic dentistry procedures are considered elective, however, many do provide restorative benefits too. For example, if you have a severely decayed tooth that requires a dental crown, a cosmetic dentist can remove the decay and protect your tooth with a crown. However, they’re going to tap into their expertise and artistry to design a beautiful, realistic-looking crown that enhances your appearance. 

Common Cosmetic Dental ProceduresCommon Cosmetic Dental Procedures

Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening is a relatively affordable, fast way to give your smile a boost. While teeth whitening strips and other over-the-counter methods can brighten your enamel, they typically only get rid of surface stains and take several weeks of use to work. Professional in-office teeth whitening achieves much more dramatic results in just one session. 

Our Naperville cosmetic dentists protect your gums and then use a professional-strength whitening gel. The gel is activated by a specially designed light and the solution breaks down stains on the teeth, including those that are deeper set. In less than an hour, you’ll have a significantly brighter smile. We’ll also give you post-whitening care instructions to help you maintain your results for a long time. In fact, your smile will always be whiter than it was before the procedure. 

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers, or porcelain veneers, are the ultimate cosmetic dental procedure, because they can give your smile an entirely new look. The treatment involves bonding thin pieces of porcelain to the front of your teeth, masking imperfections. 

With veneers, you can tackle a range of concerns, including gaps between the teeth, chipped or broken teeth, discoloration, misshapen or crooked teeth and short or worn teeth with a single procedure. Once your veneers are in place, you’ll have the straight, white teeth you’ve always dreamed of. 

When patients visit with a Naperville cosmetic dentist at our practice, we use our iTero® digital scanner to take digital images of your teeth. Once your scans are uploaded into our treatment planning software, your cosmetic dentist designs custom veneers that match the color, shape and even translucency of your natural enamel. They then remove a little bit of your enamel to get an optimal fit before cementing your veneers in place. 

Dental Crowns

A dental crown, or cap, covers your entire tooth to the gumline, restoring its appearance, strength and function. Typically, crowns are needed when a tooth is decayed, cracked or damaged and can’t be repaired with a filling. 

Though dental crowns can be used for esthetic purposes, since the natural tooth must be recontoured to fit under the crown, they’re usually reserved for teeth that are missing a lot of natural structure. For someone with healthy teeth, veneers or cosmetic dental bonding would be less invasive options. 

We offer different types of dental crowns at our practice. If you need a crown on a tooth that’s visible when you smile, getting a porcelain crown from a cosmetic dentist will give you the most natural looking results. The dentist will design a crown that blends in flawlessly and mimics the natural translucency, color and contours of a real tooth. 

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is used to replace one or more missing teeth. The most common type of bridge is a fixed bridge. It consists of two crowns with a filler tooth in the center (the pontic). The teeth on either side of the gap are recontoured to fit under the crowns, which are permanently bonded to the teeth. These abutment teeth support the replacement tooth that sits in the gap. 

A good cosmetic dentist has the skill and eye for detail to create a bridge that looks beautiful and natural. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we use cutting-edge treatment planning software and high quality materials to give our patients durable, yet highly esthetic dental bridges. 

Cosmetic Dental Bonding

Cosmetic dental bonding involves applying a custom-tinted composite resin to the tooth enamel. Once it’s hardened, the dentist shapes and polishes it to match the rest of your smile. It can cover imperfections like chips, cracks, small gaps, short or worn teeth, discoloration and misshapen teeth. 

Cosmetic dental bonding is fairly affordable and doesn’t usually involve removing any tooth enamel, but it doesn’t last as long as veneers and, over time, the resin can darken. The procedure can be a good alternative to dental veneers for patients who only have one or two minor concerns they want to fix. It’s also preferable for kids and teens who are still developing and wouldn’t be candidates for a permanent treatment.  

Is Cosmetic Dental Work Covered by Insurance?

Whether or not cosmetic dental work is covered by insurance depends on the procedure, your insurance plan and the reason for the treatment. For the most part, treatments like teeth whitening or dental veneers are not covered by insurance. If treatment is both medically necessary and esthetic, such as getting a dental crown on a decayed or damaged tooth, then your dental insurance will likely cover a portion of the procedure. 

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer a dental savings plan called VantageOne. When you purchase a membership, you can use the plan at our practice and receive discounts on all types of treatment, including cosmetic dental care. This will reduce your out-of-pocket costs if you don’t have insurance or it doesn’t cover the procedures you’re interested in. 

How Much Do Cosmetic Dental Procedures Cost?

Cosmetic dentistry prices vary depending on a number of factors, including the procedure(s) you’re getting, the practice and how extensive your case is. For example, the cost of dental veneers will be significantly higher than the cost of teeth whitening or cosmetic dental bonding. However, your smile makeover will be longer lasting and more dramatic. It really boils down to your priorities.

Another thing to consider is lab costs and materials. These are the factors that sometimes mean cosmetic dentistry prices will be higher than general dentistry prices. Why? Getting, say, a gold crown with the goal of restoring function from your general dentist doesn’t involve the level of planning and customization at a lab that getting a cosmetic porcelain crown does. 

When you visit Naperville Dental Specialists for a consultation with a cosmetic dentist, they’ll perform an exam, talk with you about your goals and needs and evaluate your diagnostic records. They’ll then be able to provide you with personalized treatment recommendations and let you know how much it will cost upfront. If you don’t want to pay in full for your treatment, we accept CareCredit. The healthcare financing card lets you break up the cost into low monthly payments. 

How to Find a Good Cosmetic Dentist

With so many areas of dentistry, it can be difficult to know how to find a good cosmetic dentist. Really, it comes down to training, experience and technology. While all dentists receive an overview of some of the components of cosmetic dentistry in dental school, you want to find a cosmetic dentist who has completed additional training in things like esthetic smile design or advanced cosmetic dental procedures. Their courses will have gone much more in depth into the nuances of designing a beautiful smile.

Technology is also important. The world of dentistry is always evolving and the tools available today are unparalleled. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we use digital scanning instead of uncomfortable, messy impressions, as well as CAD/CAM software that allows us to design restorations in three dimensions. When creating a dental crown, for example, we can use our software to make a mirror image of the tooth on the other side of your mouth, so that it matches exactly. 

Digital tools are more precise and efficient. And, since we have an in-house lab, we use our technology to offer same-day crowns and veneers that meet our exacting standards. Don’t be afraid to ask about a cosmetic dentist’s training and experience, as well as the technology they use at your first visit. 

Schedule a Consultation With a Naperville Cosmetic Dentist

To find out your options for a smile makeover, schedule a visit with a Naperville, IL cosmetic dentist today! Our caring, knowledgeable team and expert dentists will give you the personalized, high quality care you deserve. 

Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Author Dr. Anthony LaVacca

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