Aesthetic dentistry can be a confusing, misunderstood term, especially given that many people are familiar with the term cosmetic dentistry. While they are similar in some ways, there are key differences between the two types of dental work and their purpose. As a patient or practitioner, it’s important to understand both types of dentistry and what might work best when looking at the holistic need or wants of the individual.

What is aesthetic dentistry?

Aesthetic focus’ on mimicking the natural look of someone’s smile or dental work. For example, let’s say we had someone walk into the dental office with a yellow tinge on their teeth that naturally occurred over time. While some people have a natural, bright-white smile, it’s common for people to have some dullness of color, especially if they drink things like coffee and wine often. In aesthetics, the focus for the patient would be to whiten the teeth in the most natural way possible.  Teeth whitening, dental bonding, and implants are all considered aesthetic procedures, as they work towards improving someone’s dental needs to achieve what may be the ideal smile. It is also imperative that all work is functional, comfortable, and healthy.

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is like aesthetic dentistry in that they both work to achieve what the patient wants. Cosmetic dentistry focus’ more on how to achieve the PERFECT set of teeth for someone. These are the ideals from Hollywood that patient sometimes wants and look at how the teeth are perceived and how they look, as opposed to the occurring natural function. Examples of this include how straight the teeth are, gum alterations, and the shaping of the teeth. Veneers and fillings also fall into the cosmetic dentistry category.

Which do you choose?

Both fields have their benefits, and many times you will find that they overlap. Most dentists will work with both- they may want to give you the perfect white smile but ensure that it appears as natural as possible for your specific jaw structure. The biggest thing to consider is the end goal- are you looking to completely change your smile, or are you looking to work your smile into what you naturally already have? Most dentists can accommodate either preference. One is not better than the other but may change the course of action you or your provider will take in treatment.

If you are seeking braces, crowns, fillings, or other larger procedures, you will likely be referred to a cosmetic or aesthetic dental professional. This is because it is considered a specialty in the dental field, and often dental offices do not have these specialists in-house. These specialists will look at your jaw structure, oral hygiene, and the current stability of your teeth to establish what the best course of action may be. Many times, your dentist will work with a cosmetic or aesthetic professional already and can send you to someone they trust.

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