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

patient having dental treatment

Most people know they should regularly see their dentist to clean and check their teeth—however, many question whether they should see a general or cosmetic dentist to achieve their desired results. The answer hinges on why you’re seeing the dentist. If you are concerned about keeping your smile as healthy as possible, you should see a general dentist. But if you’re worried about how your teeth look, you may be better off seeing a cosmetic dentist. Contact our adept NJ Dental Team to learn the differences between general and cosmetic dentistry.

What Do General Dentists Do?

General dentists address dental problems associated with pain, discomfort, and oral hygiene. In other words, they diagnose, prevent, and treat oral health conditions. They are responsible for performing routine check-ups, examinations, cleanings, and restorations. Unlike specialists focused on a particular aspect of dental practice, general dentists provide a wide range of services to maintain oral health and treat dental diseases. Our general dentists offer the following services:

  • Bite adjustment
  • Bridges
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Filings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Gum disease treatments
  • Oral cancer screenings
  • Professional teeth cleaning
  • Root canal treatment
  • Sealants
  • TMD/TMJ treatment
  • Tooth extractions

Depending on your oral and overall health needs, you should get a routine check-up at least twice a year. However, if you are more at risk of developing certain dental problems, you may need to see your dentist every three months or another interval. If you have concerns about oral health, you should see a general dentist as soon as possible.

What Do Cosmetic Dentists Do?

Cosmetic dentistry aims to improve the appearance of your smile. Unlike general dentists, cosmetic dentists are primarily concerned with how your teeth look. If you have damaged, decaying, crooked, chipped, or discolored teeth, it can affect your self-esteem. You may benefit from seeing a cosmetic dentist when this is the case. However, it’s important to note that you can only pursue cosmetic dental treatments if you have healthy teeth and gums. Our experienced dental professionals offer a wide range of cosmetic services, including:

  • Bonding
  • Composite veneers
  • Contouring and reshaping
  • Invisalign
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Teeth whitening & bleaching

What is the Key Difference?

While there are differences between general and cosmetic dentistry, they often overlap. For example, if a patient has a decaying tooth, the tooth must be extracted to prevent the decay from spreading further. General dentists typically perform tooth extractions. Upon the extraction, the appearance of the smile will change. The patient can get composite or porcelain veneers to replace the missing tooth. Cosmetic dentists usually handle veneers. Therefore, there is no definitive line between general and cosmetic dentistry. The main difference is that cosmetic dentistry focuses on the overall aesthetic appearance of teeth, while general dentistry focuses on preventing and treating oral disease.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our seasoned dental professionals at Dental Associates of Basking Ridge, who can help you determine the service you need to improve your smile.

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