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Cosmetic vs. General Dentistry: What’s the Difference?

Cosmetic and general dentistry: a woman pointing to her teeth

Over the years, more fields in dentistry have been opening up. Today, there are different types of dentists that provide various services. For patients, this can be confusing. You know that you should see your dentist twice a year for cleaning and check-ups, but beyond that, it can be hard to keep up with changes in the field. Understanding the differences between types of dentistry can help you make more efficient choices with your dentist appointments. That way, you will have your specific needs met in a satisfactory experience.

What if it turns out that you could have gotten a better aesthetic treatment with a cosmetic dentist?

All dentists share many skills, but for cosmetic dentistry, it’s best to visit a professional according to their specialization. Let’s take a look at the differences between cosmetic and general dentistry.

What is General Dentistry?

General dentistry focuses on issues related to oral hygiene, discomfort, and dental pain. The most common procedures in this field are root canals, extraction, and cavity filling. If you’ve ever had a toothache, the chances are that the professional you visited was a general dentist.

The average general dentist provides primary dental healthcare for every kind of patient, regardless of age. These practices do not focus on one particular dental procedure but instead offer a wide variety of services.

If you are worried about the overall health of your teeth and gums, general dentists are the go-to professionals. They can diagnose oral diseases and provide preventative treatments like deep cleanings. You can also get X-rays examined and interpreted for more in-depth review of your oral health.

Why Visit A General Dentist?

Using these diagnoses and assessments, your general dentist can work with you to create a treatment plan to help you manage or fix any oral health concerns. You can also collaborate with them to create a treatment plan for maintaining oral health after an infection or other health issues.

You can expect a general dentistry practice to address the following issues –

  • Restorative services
  • Regular check-ups
  • Preventive services
  • Overall oral health concerns

What Training or Educational Accreditations Should I Expect from my General Dentist?

Your dentist must have met the requirements to graduate from an accredited dental school. Your regular dentist has either a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry degree. Dentists abbreviate these terms as DDS and DMD, respectively. You can keep a lookout for these qualifications on their website. They represent their training as a legitimate professional.

This degree allows your dentist to practice general dentistry competently. However, they can get additional training so that they specialize in a particular field. For example, you may find that your dentist has received specialized training in dental implants. The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes ten different specialties. It is possible to get extra training to become competent in any of these areas.

What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?

man getting porcelain veneers

Cosmetic dentistry is one of the dental specialties most popular in the U.S. This field focuses on aesthetics. Professionals trained in cosmetic dentistry focus on repairing broken, discolored, misshapen, or worn teeth.

The main goal of a cosmetic dentist, like Dr. Rinaldi, is to improve the appearance of your teeth and gums. There is a wide range of services centered on these improvements. Apart from the ADA, another governing body in this field is the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). According to the AACD, the major aesthetic procedures delivered in cosmetic dentistry are teeth whitening, veneers, teeth bonding, and dental implants.

Think of cosmetic dentistry as a way to get a makeover for your smile. Not only can Dr. Rinaldi and his team help you reach your oral health goals, but they can also completely transform your dental appearance. If you want healthier-looking gums, your cosmetic dentist can make it happen. If you are bothered by a misaligned tooth, this type of specialist can also address your concerns.

Here are some of the services a cosmetic dentist offers:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Gum whitening
  • Dental crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Veneers
  • Dental bonding
  • Inlays
  • Onlays
  • Dental bridges

What Training or Educational Accreditations Should I Expect from my Cosmetic Dentist?

Your cosmetic dentist should have completed the training for general dentistry. As discussed above, this is a sign that your dentist is qualified and that you are in safe hands for basic procedures. For specialized cosmetic procedures, you should check if they are AACD accredited. Accreditation in the AACD is proof of skill and education. But it is also a way to gain access to networks that can further build cosmetic skills.

With only 360 accredited cosmetic dentists in the U.S., having an accredited member at the practice is a sign that the team has the best training in specialized procedures. You can be sure that the team is proficient in their techniques. A great example of a practice headed by an accredited AACD member is the Rinaldi Dental Arts serving Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas led by Dr. Peter Rinaldi.

Apart from accredited membership to the AACD, cosmetic dentists can take many specialized training programs to improve their skills. This means that cosmetic dentists like Dr. Rinaldi’s team also have specialized training in periodontics, dental surgery, and dental adhesives.

Which Type of Dentist Should I See?

This depends on your needs. For basic dentistry services such as addressing pain, discomfort, or generally poor oral health, cosmetic or general dentists can help. However, if you need to address an aesthetic issue, you can get the best services from a cosmetic dentist. This means that you can go to either dentist for your root canal, but you should schedule your tooth restoration or whitening with a cosmetic dentist.

The best course of action is to schedule your appointment at a dental practice with professionals experienced in both general and cosmetic dentistry. Clinics like these have a team with a wide range of skills, ranging from dental surgery to dental adhesives. Whether you need to treat a serious gum infection or you are looking to brighten your smile, such a practice can handle your needs.

Contact us or call (301) 970-3492 to find out more about cosmetic and general dentistry or schedule an appointment.

Cosmetic and general dentistry: a woman pointing to her teeth