General Dentist vs Cosmetic Dentist – Which One Should I Visit?

A young and beautiful girl treats her teeth with a dentist
A young and girl treats her teeth with a dentist

There are many dental fields that exist today which can make it confusing to know which type of dentist that you should visit. Two of the most popular are the general dentist and cosmetic dentist. Each of them has their specialties, but they also share many of the same skills which mean that you might get what you need from just visiting one of them.

Of course, choosing which one is right for you will depend on your needs. But it may also depend on other factors as well. It’s important to start with what makes a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist, so you can evaluate which one has the skills you need.

What is a General Dentist?

A general dentist has basic training in the care of the teeth, mouth, and gums. They are skilled in the procedures needed to evaluate the mouth, identify issues regarding the teeth and gums, take X-rays, and perform procedures that include filling cavities, correcting the shape and direction of the teeth, filling in missing teeth uses bridges, and the use of crowns when needed.

A general dentist has no specialty but is trained in the basic methods to take care of your mouth. The training does not end as general dentists continually upgrade their education with new courses on techniques and equipment designed to better care for the mouth, teeth, and gums.

What is a Cosmetic Dentist?

A cosmetic dentist specializes in the appearance of your teeth. They are trained as dentists and perform many of the same functions, but their emphasis is on how your teeth, gums, and mouth look. Cosmetic dentistry has grown considerably over the past few decades as more people want to improve their smile. A dentist who specializes in this field will offer services such as teeth whitening, veneers, and restoration procedures that are designed to create a more youthful appearance to your smile.

To become a cosmetic dentist, specialized courses are needed and frequent training on the latest techniques. Such courses are provided year-round to ensure that the dentist knows the techniques and has access to the latest equipment.

What are the Important Differences?

It should be noted that a cosmetic dentist has the same basic training as a general dentist. This means that they can perform teeth cleanings, X-rays, and other basic techniques to take care of your teeth. In addition, both types of dentists can fill cavities, add crowns, bridges, and veneers. Both can apply braces and do other basic work that maintains and restores the condition of your mouth. However, that’s where the similarities end as both of them specialize in areas that the other is not fully trained to handle.

A general dentist is best suited for those who want basic dental care for themselves and their family. This means if you have a spouse and children, a general dentist offers the services needed to clean teeth, fill cavities, and address the basic needs of everyone. In addition, they can also perform some procedures that are considered cosmetic in nature, such as adding bridges or veneers.

However, their primary emphasis is on the health and wellbeing of your mouth, not so much the appearance as least when compared to a cosmetic dentist.

A cosmetic dentist is best suited for those who are more concerned about the appearance of their teeth. While both types of dentists will use similar procedures to fill cavities, a cosmetic dentist will mostly use composite fillings designed to match the color of your teeth. This means that a cosmetic dentist may be more expensive to see compared to a general one for basic dental services.

Still, they can provide many of the functions of a general dentist which may be perfect for those who want the health of their teeth addressed along with their appearance.

It might be easy to say that if your primary concern is the appearance of your teeth and are willing to pay more for certain dental services, then a cosmetic dentist is probably right for you. A general dentist is more suited for those who do not have an emphasis on appearance. Plus, family members that need their dental needs looked after as well. Sometimes you can find dentists with both specialities in one dental practice. It is far more convenient and cost-effective to have everyone in your family seeing the same dentist when possible.

Choosing the right one for your needs will mean doing the research necessary to make the best-informed decision. In either case, you should choose a dentist that is fully licensed, qualified and has built a sterling reputation for their work.