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Are you confused on the difference between a general and a cosmetic dentist? Here’s everything you need to know about the two types of dental professionals.

You can find more than 201,000 dentists in this country, but each has a specific focus. Two popular types of dentists are general dentists and cosmetic dentists. 

However, choosing the right type of dentist when you need dental work is essential. As a result, you might wonder about the differences between a cosmetic dentist vs. a general dentist. 

While both offer oral services for teeth, their purposes and services are different. 

Continue reading to learn about the differences between general dentists and cosmetic dentists.

Basics of a General Dentist

So, let’s start with a general dentist. What is a general dentist, and what does one do? Here are the primary things to know:

Primary Purposes

A general dentist is the most common type of dentist you can visit. General dentists complete services that focus primarily on two things: preventing problems and restoring teeth.

Preventative dentistry helps you keep a healthy mouth by focusing on steps that prevent issues. Preventing issues is the best way to keep up with your oral health.

Restorative dentistry is the second purpose of general dentistry. This branch of dentistry focuses on fixing oral issues to restore a person’s oral health. 

Common Services

So, what services do general dentists offer? First, they offer examinations and cleanings. These two services go together, meaning they occur during the same visit. 

A cleaning and exam is a preventative measure people seek to keep their teeth healthy, and they visit a general dentist for these things.

Next, general dentists perform dental fillings. A filling is a service that happens when the dentist finds decay in a tooth.

The dentist removes the decay, which leaves a hole in the tooth. Then, they fill this hole and evens it out, which restores the tooth. 

General dentists also perform root canals when a tooth’s roots become infected. Many general dentists also restore teeth with dental crowns, bridges, and implants. 

General dentists can fix the most common issues people experience with their teeth, and fixing these issues is the best way to restore your teeth. 

Frequency of Visits 

Most local dentists suggest visiting a general dentist every six months for routine checkups. During these six-month visits, you’ll get teeth-cleaning services, x-rays, and an examination. 

You might also visit a general dentist for other purposes. For example, the dentist might require follow-up visits if they find cavities or other oral issues. 

Basics of a Cosmetic Dentist

Now let’s discuss cosmetic dentistry, which is another branch of dentistry. Here are the primary things to know:

Primary Purposes

Cosmetic dentists offer services for one main purpose: to improve the looks of teeth and smiles. Cosmetic dentists focus on helping people have nicer smiles.

As a result, the services they offer aren’t usually medically necessary. Instead, you might compare these services to the services that cosmetic surgeons offer for improving the looks of a person’s body.

However, some of the services offered serve two roles. While the services might improve the looks of a person’s teeth, they also help a person restore their teeth and ability to eat and speak. 

Common Services

Cosmetic dentists offer many services, including services to whiten teeth. For example, you might seek teeth-whitening services if you’re unhappy with the color of your teeth. A cosmetic dentist can help with this issue.

Secondly, cosmetic dentists offer services to change the shape, size, and appearance of teeth. For example, they often use dental veneers to reshape teeth. They might also use these to close a gap between two teeth.

Additionally, cosmetic dentists offer services to fill in missing teeth. For example, they might suggest a dental bridge or implant to replace a missing tooth. 

A cosmetic dentist can also perform a smile makeover, which might include numerous services to make your smile look perfect.

Frequency of Visits 

So, how often do you need to visit a cosmetic dentist? Some people never choose cosmetic dentistry services. However, others might seek these services yearly. 

Other people might seek them only as needed, which might be several times during their lifetimes. 

These Services Overlap Somewhat

It’s also important to know that these services overlap at times. For example, a general dentist might offer tooth-replacement services to restore a person’s ability to eat and speak properly.

On the flip side, a cosmetic dentist also offers tooth-replacement services. However, cosmetic dentists generally do this to improve the looks of a person’s teeth.

There are additional services that overlap with general dentists and cosmetic dentists. As a result, you might wonder which type of dentist you need for your teeth and the issues you face. 

How to Choose the Right Type of Dentist

You’ll have to choose the right type of dentist when you need dental care, so how do you select a dentist? There are several ways to choose one, but the best option is to consider your oral health needs.

What oral needs do you currently have? For example, are you looking for general services, such as cleanings or checkups? If so, you’ll benefit by choosing a general dentist.

On the other hand, you’ll want to choose a cosmetic dentist if you would like to improve the way your teeth look. For example, do you want whiter teeth? Do you want to fill in a gap between your front teeth?

Cosmetic dentists assist with these oral needs, so you can select a cosmetic dentist for these oral health needs. 

Contact Us for Excellent Dental Services

After learning the differences between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist, you’ll likely know which type you need. So, do you need services at this time? 

If so, contact us at Lockhart Dental in Columbia, SC. We offer restorative dental services and cosmetic services and can help you determine which ones you need.