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[ARTICLE] General Dentistry vs. Cosmetic Dentistry
Filed Under: Dentistry | Published: Jun 29, 2009 | Author: Dr. Bruce Fletcher, DDS
Today, dentists are so much more than simply someone who can pull a tooth. With all the advances in technology, there are quite a few new areas of dentistry being explored and one of these is cosmetic dentistry. This does differ from general dentistry in a few ways.

What Cosmetic Dentistry Is

Not everyone goes to the dentist specifically for filling cavities or cleaning. Some people need to change something about their teeth and this can be done by a cosmetic dentist. A few of the things that a cosmetic dentist can help you with include:

- Porcelain veneers and caps. These are far more natural looking than metal fillings and are particularly good for teeth at the front of the mouth, where they are visible. The procedure requires some sanding of the teeth and a wait of up to a couple of weeks for the proper fitting caps to be sent back. They can correct crooked, cracked teeth or even those that have gaps between them. This technique is also good if you can`t whiten your teeth by normal means.

- Teeth whitening. Over the years, teeth tend to pick up color for a variety of reasons. Smoking, coffee drinking and colas can all cause yellowing of the teeth, as can certain medications. While you can do your own whitening treatment at home, the cosmetic dentist can do it far faster, with a laser.

- Dental bonding. This is a process that simply layers resin that is hardened with light over the teeth. It fills in cracks and unevenness and is less invasive than a veneer. However, bonding also tends to last less time, as well. You'll find that it will need to be replaced within 10 years, usually.

Cosmetic dentistry deals with the beauty of the teeth, not the functionality. If you need a whiter, straighter smile, then you will want a cosmetic dentist. However, you do need to be careful here since most dentists who work with purely cosmetic changes haven`t studied anything extra for this. Choose your dentist carefully and you may even want to talk to previous patients to find out if they were happy with the work done.

General Dentistry

For most problems relating to teeth, we head to a general dentist. These dentists have training in all the techniques needed to clean and repair teeth and if you do a bit of research, you should get one that is good. People tend to see general dentists for the following reasons:

- Cavities. When there is tooth decay, a regular dentist can remove the bad tissue and damaged enamel, clean the area and fill it. The filling can be metal or tooth colored. It is usually quite practical.

- Root canals. Hollowing out a tooth that can be left in place but has rotting tissue in the middle is a big part of general dentistry. Good dentists can do this without causing pain or side effects, but there are quite a few dentists who aren't good at this part of the practice, so ask for references before committing.

- Tooth repair. When you break a tooth or lose a filling, a general dentist is the person to help you out with a filling or cap.

There are quite a few differences between general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry, but what you need to keep in mind is that general dentistry is for fixing problems and resolving painful issues. Cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, is all about making you look great and turning that smile into a dazzling one that you'll be more than proud to show off.

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