Are you trying to decide if you need to see a cosmetic or general dentist? Popular cosmetic dentistry treatments can be a great way to improve your smile, but there’s more to consider than just the aesthetics.

From whitening to full-mouth reconstruction, many dental solutions are available today at varying price points. Different treatments also require different types of specialty care, and some patients find themselves unsure if they should see a general or cosmetic dentist.

Cosmetic dentistry may sound like it’s only for aesthetic purposes. However, certain dental procedures sometimes fall into either class. It is important to know the difference between general and cosmetic dentistry so that you can make an informed decision about which kind of specialist you need for your specific needs.

In this article, we will discuss what sets cosmetic dentistry apart from general dentistry and how you can decide which one is appropriate for your situation.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on improving the appearance of your teeth and smile. Cosmetic dentists are trained to address issues such as discolored teeth, chipped or damaged teeth, gaps between teeth, crooked teeth, and more. Common cosmetic dental services include whitening of the teeth, porcelain veneers and crowns, reshaping or bonding of misshapen teeth, orthodontic treatment (Invisalign), and more. With help from a qualified cosmetic dentist, you can improve the look and function of your smile!

Common Cosmetic Dental Treatments

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that can help to brighten and lighten the color of your teeth. This is usually done with a bleaching solution, either in-office or at home.


Veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite material that are bonded to the front of your teeth to improve their appearance. They can be used to correct discoloration, chips, gaps, and other imperfections.


Bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored composite resin material is applied to the surface of your teeth and hardened with a special light. This can be used to repair chips, cracks, discoloration, and other minor imperfections.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth. They are surgically placed into the jawbone and act as an artificial root for a replacement tooth.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are custom-made restorations that are used to repair damaged or decayed teeth. They are made of porcelain, composite resin, or gold and can be used to fill in gaps, chips, and other imperfections.

What is General Dentistry?

General dentistry includes preventive, diagnostics, and therapeutic services for the oral cavity. It focuses on the general health and maintenance of the teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues in the mouth. General dentists provide cleanings, exam checkups, fillings, fluoride treatments, crowns and bridges, root canals, extractions, braces, and other necessary dental care. General dentists educate patients about proper oral hygiene techniques such as brushing and flossing. With preventative care measures in place from a general dentist, you can help protect your smile for years to come.

General Dental Treatments

Dental Cleanings and Exams

Regular dental cleanings and exams are essential for maintaining your oral health and avoiding painful, expensive problems in the future. Dental cleanings involve a thorough removal of plaque and tartar from the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth, followed by a polish to leave your teeth feeling clean. Exams usually follow the cleaning so that a dentist can check for cavities or other signs of poor oral health.

Tooth Fillings

Tooth fillings are used to restore and repair depleted or decayed teeth. Traditional tooth fillings involve the removal of decay, cleaning the surface of the affected area, and filling the affected area. In some cases, tooth fillings may be necessary to protect against further damage and loss.

Root Canals

Root canals are a dental treatment that is needed when bacteria have invaded the innermost part of the tooth, including the pulp tissue and nerve tissue. The procedure involves removing the infected or inflamed pulp and replacing it with an inert material to prevent further damage, saving the tooth from extraction.

Tooth Extractions

Tooth extractions remove the entire tooth from its socket and prevent further infection in the gums, nerves, or bones. It is usually done when there is excessive decay or damage to a tooth, when severe gum disease compromises the health of a tooth, or when crowded teeth need to be corrected.

Dental Crowns and Bridges

Dental crowns and bridges are two common procedures that dentists use to restore a damaged or missing tooth. Crowns and bridges can be used to repair damage caused by cavities, trauma, or wear and tear, as well as replace a missing tooth.

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride treatments are a type of dental treatment used to enhance the health of teeth. At a dentist’s office, fluoride treatment is performed by applying a fluoride solution or foam to the teeth in order to protect them from cavities and further tooth decay. This type of treatment helps strengthen weak spots in the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Cosmetic Dentist or General Dentist – How do I know which one I need?

When it comes to deciding between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist, it really depends on your individual needs. Generally, if you’re looking for something more than just a routine cleaning or cavity filling, then you will likely need the expertise that a cosmetic dentist can provide. This includes procedures such as veneers, orthodontics, and teeth whitening. However, for basic dental care, tooth decay repair, and preventive treatments like regular cleanings, fluoride application, and sealant coats; a general dentist will likely be able to meet your needs. It is best to consult with each type of dentistry specialist before deciding which one meets your needs best.

If you are interested in learning more about the treatments we can offer you, give our office a call today, and we will be more than happy to help you!

About Dr Michael Le

About the Author

Dr. Michael Le was born and raised in California. He graduated University California of Riverside with a Bachelor’s in Biology. He completed his Doctor Of Dental Medicine at Midwestern University in Arizona.

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