Treatments designed to improve the overall look and appearance of a smile fall under the category of “Smile Makeover.” Because these treatments involve more than just cleaning and preserving the teeth, a general dentist generally does not offer makeover services. Those services are typically left to a cosmetic dentist.
What is a cosmetic dentist?
When it comes to maintaining and preserving the overall health of one’s smile, a general dentist will typically suffice. However, many people want to alter the appearance of the smile or gain a whole new smile. Doing either of these things may involve extensive work, which often requires specialized knowledge. A cosmetic dentist has that knowledge.
A cosmetic dentist undergoes the same schooling as a general dentist. However, whereas a general dentist graduates dental school and go on to practice dental medicine, cosmetic dentists enroll in additional courses after graduating. Those courses teach cosmetic dentists how to do everything from whiten teeth to apply veneers to install a complete set of implants.
While cosmetic dentists typically have more training than general dentists, the former often relies on the latter to create the foundation for a new smile. For instance, before a cosmetic dentist can whiten a patient’s tooth, the general dentist must clean and prep the surface. Teeth that have not been cleaned may not take to the procedure well. If a patient turns to a cosmetic dentist to hide a severely decayed or cracked tooth, the dentist will need X-rays, which are likely to come from a general dentist's records.
What should a patient ask before undergoing a smile makeover?
Before agreeing to this treatment, patients should conduct ample research and interview the dentist who is to perform the work. Below are some questions patients should ask before undergoing cosmetic dentistry procedures:
What are the dentist’s qualifications?
As mentioned, a cosmetic dentist should have additional training. Patients should always ask a dentist about the years of training, experience and special certifications. The dentist should also provide patients with before and after pictures of previous patients’ smiles.
What types of treatment are available?
Smile makeover treatments vary from practice to practice. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of treatment. Many offer immediate results, while several take months to a year to complete. Patients should discuss all options — along with the pros and cons of each — with a cosmetic dentist.
How long does treatment last?
Some procedures take just a few hours, while others can take months to years. A cosmetic dentist should be honest and upfront with patients regarding both treatment length and healing time.
The short answer to the question of who performs smile makeovers is a cosmetic dentist. However, not all cosmetic dentists are created equal, as each offers a unique suite of services. If you are interested in changing the look and appearance of your smile, discuss your individual smile makeover needs with a cosmetic dentist today.
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