A cosmetic dentist is generally concerned with making you proud of your smile by improving both the aesthetics and health of your teeth. Therefore, he or she will do such procedures as teeth whitening, bonding, veneers, and straightening which are not necessarily needed in order to have better oral health.
On the other hand, a traditional dentist specializes in preventative care in order to maintain good oral health. Therefore, he or she provides services such as teeth cleaning, cavity filling, root canals, and oral cancer screening. If you need either a checkup or have tooth pain, then you need to see a traditional dentist.
There are two primary dental specialties that focus on cosmetic dentistry. They are prosthodontics and orthodontics. According to the American Dental Association, prosthodontists diagnose, help to treat, rehabilitate, and maintain oral function, comfort, health and appearance for patients who have missing or damaged teeth as well as oral and maxillofacial tissues. The ADA defines the specialty of orthodontics as that which deals primarily with the diagnosis, prevention and correction of poorly positioned teeth.
Additionally, there are some aspects of both endodontics and periodontics that can be considered part of cosmetic dentistry. Endodontists are specialists who save teeth. While this can be done in order to maintain a healthy mouth, it can also be done in order to keep up appearances and that is how it falls under the umbrella of cosmetic dentistry. Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease and are also responsible for the placement of dental implants.
Cosmetic dentistry in and of itself is not a specialty recognized by the ADA. However, those in this field are usually members of the world’s largest and most trusted organization for cosmetic dentistry, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. In fact, there are over 6,000 dental professionals, laboratory technicians, educators, and researchers in more than 70 countries that are a part of this organization.
Moreover, those who become members of the AACD obtain both education and training on the latest procedures, techniques, and products. This is done through, lectures, workshops, and publications. Therefore, members are able to stay one step ahead of their peers and by keeping informed on trends in the market and learning how the latest products and technologies they benefit their patients and are better able to support both responsible esthetics and systemic oral health. Additionally, when a patient chooses a dentist that is an AACD member, they know their dental professional cares enough to stay in the forefront of the field and they will receive the most up-to-date and best care available.
In order to become a member, dental professionals must complete a demanding clinical testing process that includes a written examination, documentation of several types of clinical cases, passing an oral examination, and participation in continuing education classes. Once a dentist or a laboratory technician is awarded AACD accreditation, he or she is expected to stay on top of industry trends and offer his or her patients the best care available.