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Cosmetic Dentist: Your Smile Guru

What’s in a Name?

Technically speaking, all dentists are cosmetic dentists. That’s because there is no formal training required for cosmetic dentist like there is for a pediatric dentist or orthodontist. The American Dental Association doesn’t recognize cosmetic dentistry as a unique field of study; therefore, it doesn’t require cosmetic dentists to undergo any special training while in dental school.

Although no additional training is required to become a cosmetic dentist, some dentists choose to seek out continuing education programs on their own. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry provides Fellowship and Mastership programs and awards dentists who complete their work with accreditation.

What’s most important about a cosmetic dentist is that he or she has the experience you need. Ask to see before and after photos of cosmetic work the dentist has performed, then talk to fellow patients about their experiences. And find out how the dentist keeps up to date with new techniques in cosmetic dentistry.

Tools of the Trade

Cosmetic dentists can perform several types of procedures to improve your smile. Many of these techniques aren’t just cosmetic — they help improve the health of your teeth, too! Common cosmetic dentistry procedures include:

Teeth Whitening — Whiter and brighter teeth are the most sought after treatment from cosmetic dentists. The teeth whitening process can often be completed in a single visit.

Dental Veneers — Veneers are wafer-thin pieces of custom-made porcelain or plastic placed over the front of a tooth to change its shape and color. They can cover unattractive gaps and mask discolored, misshaped, cracked or crooked teeth.

Dental Implants — Dental implants can be used in lieu of dentures to replace missing teeth.

Gum Lifts — Excessive or uneven gums can be corrected via crown lengthening surgery. A cosmetic dentist can sculpt your gum line to create the look you want.

Tooth Colored Fillings — An old amalgam tooth filling can be replaced by a cosmetic dentist with a more aesthetically appealing option such as a composite resin filling, porcelain filling or a dental crown.

Reality Check

Think a whiter, brighter smile could improve your life? You’re not alone! More and more people are seeking out the help of a cosmetic dentist to improve the look of their teeth. But cosmetic dentistry can actually do more than just brighten your smile. A cosmetic dentist can help repair misshapen, chipped or broken teeth, replace missing teeth, even sculpt a new gum line.

Before having any work done, talk with your cosmetic dentist about the results you’d like to see. He or she can assess the health of your teeth and recommend the best course of dental treatment for you. Before choosing a treatment, ask your cosmetic dentist a few questions:

What will the changes look like? Computer imaging can give you a sneak peek at how your smile will look after the work is done.

How long will it take to see results? Have your cosmetic dentist thoroughly explain all suggested procedures so you’ll know whether it takes one visit or several to see the desired results.

How long will the results last? Some cosmetic treatments last longer than others. Find out what you can do to ensure the work lasts as long as possible.

How much will it cost? Cosmetic procedures range in price. Some may even be covered by dental insurance. Talk with your cosmetic dentist to find the most affordable option for you.

If you’ve made the choice to improve your smile, commit to keeping it healthy. Practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly; twice a year is recommended.

Choosing a cosmetic dentist might seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.

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