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

After completing dental school, all Mesa, AZ dentists are capable of performing both general and cosmetic dentistry procedures. In their practice, some dentists may choose to work in both fields, while their counterparts may prefer to focus on one area versus the other.

What Is General Dentistry?

The responsibility of a general dentist is to perform oral exams and recommend methods for preventing or reconstructing damage to your teeth, gums, and mouth. If trauma to one of these areas occurs, a general family dentist has the knowledge and skill to perform the appropriate repairs needed to restore proper function.

Happy woman at the dentist

What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is a focus of improving the appearance of your smile to make it more aesthetically pleasing. An attractive look includes having teeth that are a shade that compliments your skin tone, are aligned properly, and have an appropriate size and shape.

Cosmetic dentistry isn’t a recognized dental specialty, yet some dentists choose to focus on this field of care, which requires more of an artistic skillset rather than the use of science.

Common General Dentistry Procedures

The following are an example of common procedures that your general dentist may offer:

Fillings – When a tooth has a cavity, your dentist will remove the damaged part of the tooth and then fill the void back in.  The filling material that’s used will either be a tooth-colored composite resin, or a silver (amalgam) filling.

Extractions – If removing your tooth is pretty straightforward and your dentist doesn’t expect any complications, then they can extract it for you.

Root Canal Therapy – For teeth that are abscessed due to an infection or trauma, your dentist may perform an endodontic procedure called a root canal. During this treatment, they will remove the damaged and infected nerve tissue from within the tooth and then seal off the empty nerve canals.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

cosmetic-dentistry-mesa-azThe following procedures are often elective, and done to improve the appearance of your smile:

Whitening – Professional teeth whitening brightens teeth are yellow or stained. Bleaching treatments available from your dentist work much more efficiently than those available over the counter.

Enamel Contouring – This quick procedure smooths and shapes the edge of your tooth. It’s often performed to blend in small chips, smooth bulges or pits, and make the irregular shape of your teeth more uniform.

Dental Bonding – Bonding consists of putting the same tooth-colored composite filling material on your tooth as what’s used for a white filling but using it differently. During bonding, our dentist will shape the composite over the front of your teeth to improve its shape and shade.

Veneers – Porcelain veneers are a more permanent and dramatic alternative to dental bonding. The first step in this cosmetic procedure is to reduce the size of your natural teeth. Then a shell that looks like a tooth is bonded on the front surface of each tooth that’s visible when you smile.

Overlapping Cosmetic and Restorative Procedures

Certain dental procedures serve a dual purpose and benefit you in both a functional and cosmetic aspect. These include:

Implants – When you’re missing a tooth, it can be replaced with a dental implant. Implants function similar to anatomical teeth, so that they look and feel as natural as possible.

Crowns – A crown is the restorative version of a veneer. Rather than only covering the front side of a tooth, a dental crown is a cap that covers the entire tooth. This procedure is done to protect weak teeth and ones that have suffered physical damage, such as wear, fractures, or decay. Here at Eastport Dental we can have these done in the same day thanks to your state of the art CEREC Same Day Crown machine.

Crowns are often performed in conjunction with veneers to obtain a full smile makeover.

Bridges – A bridge replaces missing teeth. Essentially, a bridge is a unit of three crowns that are connected. The natural teeth on either side of your space will need to be contoured so that the bridge can fit over them. Bridges can also be set on top of implants.

Dental bridges serve a cosmetic purpose because they restore the appearance of your smile, but they also help you maintain proper function.

Partials/Dentures – A partial or denture is a removable appliance that consists of false teeth. Most often it’s considered a general dentistry procedure since they’re used to restore your functionality. However, a good dentist will also consider the aesthetic aspect when making your new smile. At Eastport Dental in Mesa we also specialize in Implant Retained Dentures also known as Snap-On Dentures.

All-In-One Dentist

If you’re looking for a general dentist that also offers integrated cosmetic techniques, visit Dr. Vinh Huynh, DMD of Eastport Dental in Mesa, Arizona. With our aesthetically minded dental team, you’re in great hands! Call us today.

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