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Difference between Aesthetic and Cosmetic Dentistry

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While often used interchangeably, aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry are not quite the same. Each focuses on enhancing dental appearance but differs subtly in goals and techniques.

If you have been held at a juncture on what sets these two arms of dentistry apart, this article will help. Here, we will take a closer look at each of them and help you better understand which of the dental practices might be best suited to your needs.

What Exactly Is An Aesthetic Dentist?

An aesthetic dentist focuses on improving the overall appearance of teeth, gums, and smiles while ensuring that the enhancements are functional and blend naturally with the individual’s facial features.

The goal of aesthetic dentistry is not just to make changes that are visually appealing, but also to preserve and improve oral health and functionality.

This branch of dentistry considers the symmetry, colour, and alignment of the teeth in relation to the patient’s entire face. It offers a wide range of services, but the most common ones are:

  • Teeth Whitening

This is one of the most popular aesthetic services. The treatment aims to brighten and remove stains from teeth, enhancing the smile’s overall appearance without altering the structure of the teeth.

  • Dental Bonding

Aesthetic dentists use a tooth-coloured resin material to correct imperfections such as chips, cracks, and gaps between teeth. This procedure is minimally invasive and can significantly improve the harmony and attractiveness of a smile.

  • Porcelain Veneers

These thin shells of ceramic are bonded to the front of the teeth to transform their appearance. Veneers are custom-made to match the natural colour and translucency of the patient’s teeth, addressing issues like severe discolouration, misalignment, or uneven tooth sizes.

  • Inlays and Onlay

Often referred to as indirect fillings, these are made from composite or porcelain materials and provide a filling to teeth with tooth decay or similar structural damage. Inlays and onlays are crafted in a lab before being fitted and adhesively bonded into place by an aesthetic dentist.

  • Dental Implants

For missing teeth, dental implants offer a durable and visually appealing solution. They not only improve the aesthetics of the smile but also contribute to the functional integrity of the patient’s bite.

What About a Cosmetic Dentist?

A cosmetic dentist primarily focuses on improving the appearance of a patient’s teeth, mouth, and smile through various elective procedures.

According to Dr Mafalda Queiroz, an experienced cosmetic dentist in York, the main goal of these enhancements is to achieve a more visually pleasing and attractive smile. The functional benefits are just a byproduct.

Cosmetic dentistry typically places a strong emphasis on the artistry of dental work, often going beyond the basic dental treatment to achieve perfect aesthetic outcomes. Services commonly offered by cosmetic dentists include:

  • Dental Veneers: Unlike aesthetic veneers that aim for a natural look, cosmetic veneers might be chosen to dramatically transform a smile with alterations to size, shape, and shade to fit ideal beauty standards.
  • Dental Bonding: Cosmetic bonding uses resin in a manner similar to aesthetic dentistry but focuses more on achieving an idealised appearance rather than blending seamlessly with the natural teeth.
  • Smile Makeovers: This comprehensive cosmetic approach assesses the overall appearance of the smile and designs a custom plan that may involve multiple procedures such as braces, implants, or gum reshaping to create a perfect smile.
  • Gum Contouring: Cosmetic dentists may reshape the gum line to improve the smile’s appearance, often making the teeth appear more proportionate or more visually appealing.

The Major Difference between the Two

The primary distinction between aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry lies in their objectives and approaches: aesthetic dentistry focuses on enhancing the patient’s natural appearance while maintaining and improving functionality and oral health.

This field aims for results that appear natural and harmonious with the individual’s overall facial features.

In contrast, cosmetic dentistry prioritises achieving a perfect or ideal appearance, often emphasising dramatic transformations that adhere to societal beauty standards.

While both practices offer procedures aimed at improving the look of the teeth and smile, aesthetic dentistry blends improvements seamlessly with function, whereas cosmetic dentistry focuses on the visual impact and the patient’s desire for a flawless smile.

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