Oral Health vs. Aesthetics

What Sets Cosmetic and General Dentistry Apart?

Intan Nobury


Apr 18, 23

3 min read

Christina Sikalias photoshoot with Picasso Porcelain Veneers

You may have heard the terms "cosmetic dentistry" and "general dentistry" used interchangeably in the dental field. There are several significant distinctions between the two forms of dentistry, even though both emphasis oral health improvement and the prevention of dental concerns. Having an understanding of the differences between cosmetic and general dentistry can make it easier to choose the most suitable form of dental care to meet your needs.

Common dental concerns including cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay are the focus of general dentistry, which also focuses on their prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Regular dental exams, cleans, and restorative treatments including fillings, crowns, and root canals are all part of this form of dentistry. Additionally, general dentists help patients create a specific strategy for preserving their dental health and educate them on proper oral hygiene techniques.

The goal of cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, is to address cosmetic concerns. This kind of dentistry involves veneers, braces, whitening and clear aligners for orthodontic therapy. The use of dental implants that blend in perfectly with the natural teeth or tooth-colored fillings are examples of restorative procedures that some cosmetic dentists may also do.

While general dentistry is typically covered by dental insurance and focuses on addressing oral health issues, cosmetic dentistry is often considered elective and may not be covered by insurance. However, the line between the two types of dentistry can sometimes be blurred, as many general dentists offer cosmetic procedures.

Key differences between cosmetic and general dentistry

Key differences between cosmetic and general dentistry when deciding what’s right for you:

Focus on aesthetics

As mentioned earlier, cosmetic dentistry places a greater emphasis on the aesthetics of the teeth and smile. General dentistry, on the other hand, focuses on maintaining good oral health, diagnosing and treating dental problems, and restoring damaged teeth.

Elective vs. necessary

While general dentistry procedures are often necessary to maintain oral health, cosmetic dentistry procedures are usually elective and performed to enhance the appearance of the teeth or smile. In some cases, both treatments tie hand in hard. For instance, if you have thin, chipped and/or weak enamel, porcelain crowns may be recommended to preserve your smile. 

Procedures offered

General dentists typically offer routine dental checkups, cleanings, fillings, root canals, and other basic dental procedures. Cosmetic dentists, on the other hand, offer a wider range of procedures such as teeth whitening, veneers, cosmetic bonding, orthodontics and smile makeovers.

Training and qualifications

While both general and cosmetic dentists are required to obtain a dental degree, cosmetic dentists may undergo additional training in cosmetic procedures and techniques to achieve a high level of expertise in their field.


Cosmetic dentistry can be more expensive than conventional dentistry operations since it is frequently viewed as an elective. Dental insurance may cover some aesthetic operations, but many are not, therefore patients may be required to pay out of pocket for these services.

Both general dentistry and cosmetic dentistry focus on improving oral health and preventing dental issues, they differ in their primary goals and focus areas. Whether you need general or cosmetic dental care depends on your individual needs and goals, and it's important to choose a dentist who can provide the right type of care for you. 

Written By

Intan Nobury

An appreciator of art, novels and high intensity sports. With a passion for work and a dangerous addiction to tea.