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Cosmetic vs. General Dentistry – Which Do I Need?

Cosmetic vs. General Dentistry – Which Do I Need?

Cosmetic vs. General Dentistry – Which Do I Need?
Dr. Jones
July 31, 2023

Many dentists provide several areas of care. General dentistry is very common and includes things like dental exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, etc. Dental insurance covers some or all of a person’s general dentistry services because it’s typically care you get to stay healthy, avoid tooth pain, and improve oral hygiene.

Cosmetic dentistry is designed more for aesthetics and how you feel about your smile. It’s done more for emotional reasons. For that reason, it’s less likely that cosmetic dentistry treatments will be covered. There are a few exceptions, however, where your medical or dental insurance may step in and cover restorative treatments required after an accident or illness like cancer.

That’s a quick summary of the two dental services, but how do you know which you need? It all comes down to what you’re looking to fix or do.

A Breakdown of General Dentistry

Some of the most common general dentistry practices are preventative care which includes cleanings, x-rays, sealants, fluoride treatments, and oral cancer screenings. If problems are discovered, general dentistry can extract decayed teeth, complete fillings, and perform root canals. 

General dentistry may also include fittings for mouthguards for students and adults who play sports. Dentists can also provide instruction to help people better care for their teeth.

Why would you want a general dentist?

  • You’re experiencing pain when you chew tougher foods like meats or nuts.
  • You’ve noticed a cavity in a back molar.
  • You haven’t had a professional cleaning in the past six months.
  • Your baby’s first tooth has broken through the gums.
  • You want to protect your teeth from plaque and tartar and learned that sealants are covered by your dental insurance.
  • You smoke and have discolored teeth and need an oral cancer screening.

A Breakdown of Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on how your teeth look. It’s often desired to get a perfect smile for your self-confidence. Cosmetic dentistry includes services and treatments that may include some or all of these.

  • ClearCorrect: ClearCorrect is an alternative to traditional metal braces. Instead of having brackets adhered to your teeth and then using wires to straighten the teeth, ClearCorrect is a custom tray that you wear all day and night to slowly adjust your teeth alignment. As your teeth straighten, you move to the next tray. ClearCorrect is easy to take in and out, which makes it easier to clean your teeth and gums.
  • Cosmetic bonding: A tooth-colored composite material is used to fix a chip, fill gaps, repair fractures and cracks, and resolve discoloration that whitening cannot correct.
  • Dental veneers: Fix uneven, chipped, gapped, or stained teeth by putting a thin porcelain or resin shell over the prepared tooth.
  • Porcelain crowns: A porcelain crown is a porcelain cover that fits over the remaining portion of your tooth that wasn’t lost to decay.
  • Teeth whitening: Products and lighting are used to bleach or whiten the teeth to get rid of years of wine, coffee, and other food and beverage stains.

When would you arrange cosmetic dentistry?

  • You chipped a tooth and want to return your tooth to like-new condition.
  • You have a gap between your teeth that bothers you and would like to fill it.
  • You need braces but can’t stand the idea of having food stuck in metal braces.
  • You had to have a root canal and need a crown.
  • You’re embarrassed by your smile.

What If You’re Not Finding What You Need?

That covers cosmetic and general dentistry, but what if what you need isn’t there? Jody Jones DDS also provides restorative dentistry. Restorative dentistry is designed to restore your teeth to like-new condition. Restorative dentistry treatments include:

  • Bridges: When you have a tooth or several teeth pulled, leaving a gap isn’t advised. Instead, a bridge is created to fit the gap using an artificial tooth and brackets that secure each end of the bridge to existing teeth. They’re similar to dentures, only they aren’t for an entire upper or lower jaw.
  • Dentures: Dentures are artificial teeth that are affixed to a gum-colored plate that you secure to your gums using a denture adhesive. Dentures must fit correctly as slipping dentures can lead to pain and irritation of the gums that makes it difficult to eat.
  • Implants: Instead of a bridge, you can have a metal post secured to your jawbone. That post is capped by a strong artificial tooth that looks real. No one will notice you’re missing a tooth.
  • Inlays and onlays: Inlays and onlays are used to fill an uneven tooth surface that’s pitted or decayed to the point that a filling isn’t enough. Inlays sit in the middle of a tooth and onlays cover the cusps or raised bumps on the surface of a tooth.

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Finding the Right Dentist

Whether you need a cosmetic dentist or a general dentist, it’s important to choose a dentist who will work with you. Dental anxiety is the psychological and physical fear of a visit to a dentist’s office. Some people fear the dentist due to painful past experiences, past verbal abuse at the hands of a dental professional, or fear of the cost of necessary treatments.

If a teen was told by his dentist that girls would never like him because he didn’t have good teeth, that emotional trauma may make it hard to go to the dentist as an adult, even if it was a foolish statement. If a child was at the dentist and the dentist drilled the child’s tongue, the pain may create fear.

When dental anxiety keeps you from regular dental care, look for a dentist that specializes in this type of anxiety. Dr. Jody Jones has options that can make you comfortable during exams and treatments.

In many dental practices, there is an overlap between general and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Jody Jones considers tooth whitening to be a general dentistry practice. If you have teeth that are discolored by coffee, wine, and other beverages and dislike the discoloration, give us a call or reach us online. Our teeth whitening services are designed to restore the natural white coloring you were born with.

Often, you need a variety of dental services. Finding a dentist like Nashville’s Jody Jones DDS that offers the different services you need will save time and hassle. Instead of having to go to a general dentist for the x-rays and exam and get a referral to an orthodontist for braces, you keep your dental appointments in the same practice, saving you a lot of time.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t avoid calling because you don’t know what to ask. Our team is here to help you better understand the differences between cosmetic and general dentistry. You can arrange a virtual consultation to get started if that’s more convenient.