Cosmetic Dentistry FAQ Have you ever wondered what cosmetic dentistry involves and how it really works? We get a lot of these questions from our patients, and we completely understand why. For many people, cosmetic dentistry means teeth whitening or veneers. Yes, sure, we can do those... However, cosmetic dentistry can do far more than that. To help clarify, we'll take some time to answer your most frequently asked questions.

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance and aesthetics of your smile. Common cosmetic dental procedures include teeth whitening, dental bonding, and veneers, but can also have significant overlap with restorative dentistry and more comprehensive treatments. Cosmetic dentistry goes much further than most people tend to think, as it's often combined with other procedures.

What can cosmetic dentistry fix?

Cosmetic dentistry can do many things, especially in conjunction with other treatments:
  • Enhance your smile
  • Brighten dull, stained teeth
  • Improve the shape of your teeth
  • Conceal chips and cracks
  • Make your teeth symmetrical
  • Boost your confidence
  • Fix over and under-bites
  • Straighten crooked teeth
  • Restore receding gums
Note that while cosmetic dentistry definitely will make your teeth better, it can also correct specific problems, reducing the need for more invasive techniques.

Is cosmetic dentistry a specialty?

Although specialists may perform cosmetic dentistry, it is not a "specialty." Within the field of dentistry, "specialist" usually refers to oral surgeons, pediatric dentists, and other types of specialized dental care providers.

Does insurance cover cosmetic dentistry?

In most cases, cosmetic dentistry is not covered by health insurance in the US. However, some dental plans may cover some of the costs associated with certain procedures. Certain treatments can both improve your appearance and have legitimate health benefits (such as repairing a severely damaged tooth). In these cases, insurance will likely cover the treatment. It is important to check with your insurance provider to determine if your specific plan offers coverage for cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dental procedures include teeth whitening, veneers, crowns, bridges, orthodontics, and in some cases, implants. Health insurance may cover the cost of restorations necessary for medical reasons, such as repairing a fracture or restoring a tooth damaged in an accident. However, most insurance plans do not cover the cost of elective procedures, such as teeth whitening or veneers, which have no other function than improving appearance. Additionally, some plans may cover part of the cost of orthodontic treatment if it is deemed medically necessary. It is important to check with your insurance provider to determine the specifics of your coverage. A list of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures

What types of cosmetic dentistry procedures are available?

Common cosmetic dentistry procedures include dental veneers, teeth whitening, dental implants, dental crowns, and orthodontics.
  • Dental veneers are thin shells placed over existing teeth to improve their shape, size, and color. Think of them like a "mask" your teeth wear on the front.
  • Teeth whitening is a procedure that lightens the color of the teeth using products such as bleaching gels or trays.
  • Dental implants are artificial teeth surgically placed in the jawbone to replace missing teeth. These can have distinct benefits for neighboring teeth and jaw health.
  • Dental crowns are caps made of porcelain or metal placed over existing teeth to strengthen them and improve their appearance.
  • Orthodontics is the process of straightening teeth and correcting bite issues using braces or clear aligners.

What’s the difference between cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of the teeth and smile, while general dentistry mainly focuses on maintaining good oral health and preventing dental diseases. Cosmetic dentistry includes teeth whitening, veneers, and bonding, while general dentistry includes more of a maintenance aspect, such as regular check-ups, cleaning, fillings, and extractions. A general dentist is a primary dental care provider. They offer preventative care, like teeth cleanings, and restorative dentistry treatments, such as dental fillings, crowns, and bridges. Most dental treatments restore appearance as well as health and function.

Overlap between restorative and cosmetic dentistry

Often, the difference between what is known as restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry is simply the choice of materials. Tooth-colored fillings have become the standard of care, but while many dentists favor composite fillings, we often like to use ceramic fillings because of their many benefits. Ceramic fillings look better, and they can also be longer-lasting. While a composite filling may last up to ten years, a ceramic filling may last up to 30 years! There are similar benefits to full ceramic crowns, too. Ceramic crowns provide better protection against temperature sensitivity compared to metal crowns. The following list may be considered both general and cosmetic.
  • Chipped or broken tooth
  • Lost crown or filling
  • Lost tooth
  • Loose tooth
  • Abscess

Examples of both

Chipped or broken teeth are typically repaired with a filling, dental bonding, dental crown, or dental veneer. Dental veneers are cemented to the surface of a tooth. In either case, the tooth regains its unchipped or unbroken appearance. When a crown or filling is lost, the emergency dentist will prepare the tooth to ensure enough natural tooth is left for a filling or crown and re-fill or re-cap the tooth.

How long do cosmetic dental treatments last?

The longevity of cosmetic dentistry depends on factors such as the type of procedure, the materials used, the patient's oral hygiene habits, and lifestyle.
  • Teeth whitening results can last up to three years with proper care, while dental implants can last a lifetime.
  • Porcelain veneers may last up to 10 years with good oral hygiene, while composite veneers may only last up to five years.
  • Orthodontic treatments can last anywhere from several months to several years or more, depending on the severity of the case.

Interesting fact

Improving the state of your smile can influence other treatments in the future, which may have unexpected health benefits. For example, aligned teeth are easier to clean (both at home and for your dentist) and may reduce the risk of cavities. If you have any specific questions about how a dentist can improve your smile, or if you would simply like to know more, contact us. We proudly serve the Edgewater, NJ community and surrounding areas.