Decoding Dentistry: Understanding differences between Cosmetic, General, and Restorative Dentistry
Dentistry is a multifaceted field encompassing a wide range of treatments and services aimed at addressing dental health and improving the aesthetics of one’s smile. Among the most prevalent branches of dentistry are general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative dentistry.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between cosmetic dentistry and general or restorative dentistry, as well as take a look at some popular cosmetic dentistry treatments that can help to enhance your smile.
Cosmetic Dentistry Vs General or Restorative Dentistry
Let’s start by looking at what each type of dentistry involves and some common treatments.
What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is a specialised branch of dentistry that focuses on enhancing the aesthetics of a person’s smile. While general dentistry primarily addresses oral health and the prevention and treatment of dental issues, cosmetic dentistry goes a step further to improve the appearance of the teeth and gums. The key goal of cosmetic dentistry is to create a more visually appealing smile, boosting oral function and overall quality of life.
Examples of cosmetic dentistry treatments:
- Teeth whitening: This popular procedure uses specialised bleaching agents to remove stains and discolouration, resulting in whiter teeth and a brighter smile.
- Veneers: Thin shells, usually made of porcelain or composite resin, are custom-fitted over the front surface of teeth to conceal imperfections like stains, chips, or gaps.
- Crowns: A tooth-shaped cap that is custom-made to fit over a natural tooth, restoring its strength, size, shape, and appearance.
- Orthodontics: Orthodontic treatments – such as Invisalign® and clear aligners – address misaligned teeth and bite issues, improving both function and appearance.
What is general dentistry?
General dentistry is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of your oral health. General dentists are responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of dental conditions, as well as the execution of regular check-ups and cleanings. Their primary objective is to deliver preventive care, aiming to promote the optimal functionality and well-being of teeth and gums.
Examples of general dentistry procedures:
- Dental cleans: Regular cleanings help prevent gum disease and cavities by removing plaque and tartar buildup.
- Fillings: Used to repair teeth affected by cavities, fillings restore damaged tooth structure.
- Extractions: General dentists may remove problematic or damaged teeth, often due to severe decay or crowding.
- Oral examinations: Routine check-ups involve assessing overall oral health, including the gums, teeth, and jaw.
What is restorative dentistry?
Restorative dentistry focuses on repairing or replacing damaged or missing teeth and restoring their functionality. While it shares some similarities with general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry, it is primarily concerned with addressing significant dental problems in order to restore appearance and functionality.
Examples of restorative dentistry procedures:
- Dental crowns: Crowns, or caps, are placed over damaged teeth to strengthen and protect them, restoring both function and appearance.
- Dental bridges: Bridges are used to replace missing teeth by anchoring artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth or dental implants.
- Dental implants: Implants are surgically placed in the jawbone to replace missing teeth, offering a stable and long-lasting solution.
- Root canals: This procedure treats infected or damaged tooth pulp, preserving the natural tooth.
Dental Veneers: The Popularity and Effectiveness of Dental Veneers in Cosmetic Dentistry
Dental veneers are a frequently sought-after cosmetic dentistry procedure known for their potential to enhance the aesthetics of teeth. They have the capacity to improve the colour, shape, size, and overall appearance of teeth, resulting in a more appealing and naturally attractive smile.
Dental veneers stand out as a preferred option for those looking to enhance their teeth’s appearance when compared to various other cosmetic dentistry treatments, thanks to their unique advantages.
Here are some of the key advantages of dental veneers:
- Cosmetic Enhancement: Dental veneers are a popular choice for improving the appearance of one’s teeth. They can instantly correct various cosmetic issues, such as stains, discolouration, and uneven tooth colour, giving the patient a whiter, brighter, and more uniform smile.
- Natural appearance: Porcelain veneers, in particular, are known for their ability to closely mimic the appearance of natural teeth. They reflect light in a way that is similar to natural enamel, providing a realistic and aesthetically pleasing result.
- Closing Gaps: Dental veneers can be used to close small gaps between teeth, providing a more even and harmonious smile without the need for orthodontic treatments like braces or clear aligners.
- Stain resistance: Porcelain veneers are highly resistant to staining from coffee, tea, wine, and other common stain-causing substances. This can help maintain a bright and attractive smile in the long term.
- Reshaping Teeth: Veneers are custom-made to fit each individual tooth, allowing for the reshaping and resizing of teeth to create a more balanced and attractive smile.
- Long-Lasting Results: Veneers offer durable and long-lasting results, typically lasting for a decade or more with proper care. This makes them an attractive option for individuals seeking a lasting cosmetic improvement.
Veneers vs. Tooth Whitening
Veneers and teeth whitening are both well-known cosmetic dental procedures that aim to enhance the aesthetics of teeth, yet they exhibit notable distinctions in their approach and potential outcomes.
Teeth whitening is a non-invasive and relatively cost effective method geared toward brightening the natural shade of teeth. This procedure entails the application of a bleaching agent to eliminate surface stains and discolouration, leading to a visibly improved smile. However, it’s important to note that while teeth whitening can be effective in enhancing tooth colour, it may not be a suitable option for addressing structural issues or severe discolouration.
On the other hand, veneers provide a more comprehensive solution, offering the ability to not only whiten teeth but also correct a range of cosmetic imperfections, including chips, cracks, gaps, and misalignment. It is essential to be aware that the veneer application process typically necessitates the removal of a small amount of tooth enamel to accommodate the veneers, which is an irreversible procedure. Veneers provide enduring and remarkable transformations but come at a higher cost in comparison to teeth whitening. It’s imperative to consult with our dental professionals to determine which option aligns best with your specific needs and objectives.
Veneers vs. Dental Crowns
Veneers and dental crowns both result in improvements to the appearance and functionality of teeth, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics.
Dental crowns serve a distinct purpose compared to veneers, with a primary focus on restorative and structural improvement rather than purely cosmetic enhancements. They are designed to reinforce and rehabilitate teeth that have suffered substantial damage, which can occur due to factors such as decay, fractures, or the necessity for root canal treatment.
While veneers cover the front surface of teeth and involve minimal enamel removal, dental crowns cover the entire tooth, providing more extensive coverage in order to restore damaged or weakened teeth.
If you’re considering cosmetic dentistry to enhance the appearance of your teeth, talk to your dentist about the best treatments for you. Contact your dentist and start your journey to a radiant smile.