What is Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry pertains to a wide range of dental procedures used to restore the appearance and functionality of the teeth while providing a better smile. Patients who have broken, crooked, fractured, worn down or missing teeth can usually benefit from some method of cosmetic dentistry. In general, cosmetic dentistry focuses on the art of dentistry as well as the science. When people hear the term “cosmetic”, they often think of an aesthetic treatment such as teeth whitening. While cosmetic dentistry does include teeth whitening treatments, it also includes:
- tooth colored fillings
- dental bonding
- porcelain bridgework
- dental implants
- clear orthodontic aligners
- tooth re-contouring and reshaping
Cosmetic or Restorative
Many patients delay having a much-needed procedure because they believe their treatment is cosmetic in nature. They are usually under the false belief that anything cosmetic related is not covered by their insurance. However, cosmetic dentistry is more than improving the appearance of the teeth and many cosmetic procedures associated with restoring the teeth are covered by dental insurance. Patients are encouraged to contact their insurance company prior to any treatment to discuss the extent of their coverage.
It is important to understand that treatments for cosmetic dentistry will improve the appearance of the teeth but some treatments can also restore function while improving oral health. This can be the deciding factor in whether your procedure is cosmetic and restorative dentistry or both. For example, there is no medical need to make your teeth whiter. Therefore, teeth whitening treatments are purely cosmetic and an out-of-pocket expense. Dental veneers and composite bonding are also considered aesthetic treatments and are generally not covered. However, if bonding or veneers are used to restore chipped or worn enamel which is causing sensitivity, it may be considered a restorative procedure. Dental bonding can be used for minor aesthetic flaws impacting the front teeth including chips, cracks, discoloration, teeth gaps and mildly crooked teeth. While these treatments will improve the appearance of the teeth and the smile of the patient, they may also be considered medically necessary.
Dental implants, dental bridges, porcelain crowns and invisible braces are also cosmetic dental procedures which can be considered restorative treatments. Dental implants and bridges can be used to replace a missing tooth which might be causing all sorts of functional and oral health issues including a shift in teeth alignment, eating and speaking issues, muscle weakness and bone deterioration in the jaw. Porcelain crowns can restore function while improving the appearance of fractured teeth, teeth with significant decay or teeth which have been treated with a root canal. Invisible braces can help to create a more confident smile by aligning the teeth and jaw while helping to avert possible health problems such as chewing issues, nutritional deficiencies, tooth decay, cavities and gum or heart disease.