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How are General and Cosmetic Dentistry Different?

At Chappaqua Dentistry, we provide a wide range of dental services to care for your dental health. In addition to general dentistry, our team offers a variety of cosmetic treatments as well. But with so many procedures available, you may wonder what really separates general and cosmetic dentistry. And which of the two can best address your unique dental needs?

What are the Goals of General and Cosmetic Dentistry?

In many ways, general and cosmetic dentistry are two sides of the same coin. Each field uses its own methods to leave your teeth looking healthy and vibrant. But while both work to improve your smile, they do so with different goals and outcomes in mind.

Maintaining Your Oral Health

General dentists focus on oral health through prevention and restoration. Your teeth and gums make up one of the most complex systems in your body, and they need regular care to last a lifetime. When you visit your dentist’s office for a routine cleaning and have a cavity filled, that’s general dentistry. Any problem that could impact your health or lead to tooth loss falls under this umbrella.

General dentistry is the oldest and most established type of dental care. It’s an essential part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums and also handles emergencies like a dental abscess. Without regular preventative care, you’re more likely to develop the kind of issues cosmetic dentistry aims to fix.

Improving Your Dental Appearance

Cosmetic dentistry, meanwhile, corrects aesthetic flaws in a patient’s teeth and gums. Your smile is one of the first things others see, and missing, stained, or crooked teeth can hurt first impressions. Patients who suffer from tooth decay or other conditions may turn to cosmetic dentistry to help their teeth appear brighter, straighter, and healthier.

Not long ago, cosmetic dentistry was a specialist field that mainly catered to wealthy and highly visible clients. In the last few decades, however, its popularity has exploded across the country. Procedures have grown more affordable, more available, and less invasive as general dentists adopt them in their practices.

For more advanced cases, consider prosthodontic care as well. Prosthodontics addresses many of the same problems as cosmetic dentistry, but it’s able to help patients recovering from more advanced tooth decay or traumatic injuries. Dr. Steven Brisman specializes in this field alongside general and cosmetic services.

What Procedures are General or Cosmetic?

So, which dental procedures fall into each of these categories? Let’s break it down to learn more.

General

General dentistry covers any treatment meant to maintain or restore the function of your teeth and gums. Common dental procedures may include:

  • Cleanings and exams: Routine visits typically see professional cleanings, X-ray imaging, periodontal exams, and visual screening for signs of tooth decay.
  • Fillings: When a tooth develops a cavity, fillings halt its progress and protect the tooth’s inner tissues.
  • Root canals: A root canal removes infected tissue within a tooth, saving it from further damage.
  • Extractions: Extractions become necessary when tooth decay advances too far or the tooth breaks irreparably.
  • Gum disease treatment: Gum disease and periodontitis occur when harmful bacteria hide within your gums. This can lead to symptoms like bleeding after flossing, bad breath, and eventually tooth decay or lost teeth.

Cosmetic

The most common cosmetic procedures whiten, straighten, and repair chips in teeth. A few of the services provided by our team include the following:

  • Teeth whitening: Age, diet, and smoking can all stain your teeth. Whitening procedures restore your smile to its original healthy glow.
  • Invisalign: Invisalign is one of the most popular methods to straighten teeth. Compared to metal braces, Invisalign tends to work faster, and the aligners are both clear and removable.
  • Veneers: Porcelain veneers are thin, custom-made covers that sit over your teeth and provide a bright, even facade.
  • Cosmetic bonding: Bonding is one of the most reliable ways to repair a chipped tooth, using composite resin to fill in the gaps.
  • Revising prior dental work: Metal fillings and crowns are sometimes too visible for comfort as you speak, eat, and laugh. Thankfully, they can be replaced with more natural-looking composite resins.

Both

In some cases, cosmetic treatments also boost your oral health, such as these procedures:

  • Dental implants: Dental implants replace a lost tooth while preventing jaw deterioration.
  • Dental crowns: Dental crowns typically follow a broken tooth or root canal. They both protect the inner tooth and hide the damaged areas.
  • Dentures: Dentures restore your smile as well as your ability to chew and speak normally.

Is There a Difference Between Cosmetic and General Dentists?

Dentists who offer cosmetic procedures have gone through the same rigorous education and training as any general dentist. Cosmetic dentists then go on to learn extra techniques to restore and realign teeth. This allows dentists like Dr. Steven A. Brisman to offer both general and cosmetic care to his patients with no loss of quality.

How do Insurance Companies Handle Cosmetic Procedures?

Unfortunately, unless a cosmetic procedure is also meant to protect a patient’s health, many insurance companies will offer limited or no coverage. This is because most forms of cosmetic dentistry are seen as elective procedures, or not necessary for the patient’s well-being. If you’re not sure whether a specific treatment is covered, speak to your insurance provider or contact our office.

How Can Patients Balance Dental Health and Cosmetics?

Every patient faces unique challenges when it comes to dental health and aesthetics. Your first priority should always be your health; without a solid foundation, any cosmetic changes will eventually need to be corrected again. For that reason, we always recommend staying up to date with your general dental care. But if you’re feeling self-conscious about your smile, it’s never too late to start making cosmetic improvements.

Whether you’re looking for routine maintenance, advanced treatments, or help regaining a confident smile, our team at Chappaqua Dentistry is here and ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or for a consultation. We offer a full range of procedures to ensure that no matter what dental problems you’re facing, our team can find the right solution.

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