The term “Esthetic” or “Cosmetic” Dentistry is used frequently in the dental industry.  But, did you know nearly any dentist can call himself a cosmetic dentist? The concept of “Cosmetic Dentistry” is ill defined by the dental industry.  The reason for the quotations around the phrase is because there is no such specialty in dentistry.

    The term “Cosmetic Dentistry” is widely used to imply that one particular dentist is more versed in nice appearing outcomes than others.  Of course, this is only a marketing ploy.  A “cosmetic” dentist who calls themselves anything other than a General Dentist is merely attempting to market themselves to a different type of patient or a different demographic.  This marketing ploy implies advanced training or superior results.  The exceptions to this are dental specialists.  (Dentists with a Specialty degree.)  Only a dental specialist can call themselves a specialist, as defined by a recognized specialty designation.

    All true dental specialties require at least three additional years of advanced training after dental school.  The nine recognized dental specialties are:  1Endodontics (root canals), 2Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 3Pediatric Dentistry (children), 4Oral Pathology, 5Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, 6Orthodontics (braces),   7Periodontics (gums),  8Prosthodontics (reconstructive and esthetic dentistry) and 9Community Health (government dentistry).

    When reviewing this list you will not the absence of “Cosmetic Dentistry”.  The American Dental Association website, www.ada.org, can be used to verify this information.  On this list of 9 specialties, only one has specific, relative training for the “Esthetic/Cosmetic” component of dentistry. That specialty is Prosthodontics.

    You may also notice there is no designated Implant(ologist) specialty. There is none. However, a few specialty programs do include extensive training and emphasis on dental implants:

    • Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery
    • Periodontics
    • Prosthodontics

    A Prosthodontist is highly trained in cosmetics, dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, TMJ/TMD and more. They are often referred to as the “architects of dentistry”. To learn more about this specialty, visit the American College of Prosthodontists