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General Dentistry Versus Cosmetic Dentistry

there are different types of dentists

Just like the myriad of specialists in the world of medicine—general practitioners and dermatologists, for example—there are different types of dentists. While these distinctions can be confusing to the average person, there’s no reason for them to be overwhelming!

Two of the most common types of dental practices are general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. The titles may give away a bit of what each does, but there are notable overlaps and separations between the two. What are they? We thought you might ask—read on to solve the mystery of general dentistry versus cosmetic dentistry!


General dentists and cosmetic dentists receive the same basic training and share educational backgrounds. This means that, to a certain point, they have the same expertise and the ability to perform the same pillars of dental practice—evaluation of oral health, diagnosis of issues, filling cavities, and so on.

So, it suffices to say that both general dentists and cosmetic dentists share significant overlap in their training. When it comes to specialization, however, differences come to light. General dentists are much like general practitioners—they don’t specialize in any one area, but rather focus on the overall dental wellbeing of their patients.

Cosmetic dentists, on the other hand, do pursue a specialty. This means that they must receive further training with an emphasis on the aesthetics of the mouth, including teeth and gums. So, while they can perform basic dental procedures, they can also offer services that focus on appearance.


Because both types of dentists receive the same foundational training, both can offer the same basic services. These usually include what comes to mind when you think of the dentist—cleanings, x-rays, cavity repairs, bridges, and so on. Where the differences begin to mount is in the extra offerings that cosmetic dentists tend to offer.

For those concerned about the appearance of their smile or those who have significant aesthetic work that needs to be performed, a cosmetic dentist is the way to go. A cosmetic dentist will use composites to more closely match the color of your teeth when repairing cavities, perform custom-fit implant surgeries for those with missing teeth, and help improve your smile with advanced straightening and whitening techniques.

The versatility a cosmetic dentist can offer under one roof gives them and their patients a distinct convenience advantage over a general dentist. Not only can they do routine checkups and cleanings, they can also diagnose and address cosmetic concerns in the same office when a general dentist would have to recommend patients to someone else for such procedures.

We hope this article helped clarify the differences between the two most common types of dentistry! If you’re unsure what type of dentist you’ve been visiting, we recommend reaching out to them. They would be more than happy to provide you with any information you may need, including their own qualifications and what type of dentist is right for your particular needs!