How to Choose a Top Cosmetic Dentist
A top cosmetic dentist is your best bet if you are looking for a high-quality smile makeover. The search for someone to do your cosmetic dental work is based on some of the same criteria as finding a general dentist. However, there are also differences. Cosmetic dentists have been trained in general dentistry but choose to focus on the artistry of crafting a perfect smile – as opposed to just paying attention to oral health and fixing functional problems. They cater to clientele who are willing and able to pay out of pocket to achieve an ideal smile. Since cosmetic services are rarely covered by dental insurance, going “in network” is not usually a consideration in picking your cosmetic dentist. Instead, you should take a close look at their reputation.
What About Specialization?
Researching the relevant credentials of a cosmetic dentist can be difficult. Contrary to popular assumption, cosmetic dentistry is not currently recognized as a specialty by the American Dental Association. Even Top Dentists in this field don’t get to display ADA certification showing that they are a cosmetic dentistry specialist. However, there is certification available in cosmetic dentistry via the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Many top cosmetic dentists are associated with this organization. Few have actually achieved accredited member status, so this is an additional mark of distinction to look for.
There are also some recognized dental specialties that overlap with common cosmetic procedures. For example, a prosthodontist will typically have significant experience placing veneers and cosmetic (porcelain) crowns. An orthodontist is a specialist who excels at straightening crooked teeth. So, if you only have one type of tooth flaw you want fixed, you might go to one of these specialists for cosmetic work. For a full smile makeover, you will need to find a dentist who does all the most popular types of cosmetic work (whitening, straightening, veneers and crowns, etc.)
One very popular concept among patients is the “no-prep” dental veneer. These are veneers that can supposedly be affixed to a tooth without removing any tooth structure first. However, a Top Dentist will be honest with you about what to expect. The fact is that almost no patients meet the criteria for actual “no-prep” installation of veneers. For example, if you put a veneer on a crooked tooth to cover it up without evening out the tooth surface first, the veneer will look crooked, too. Most patients need at least minimal preparation of the tooth surface to ensure the veneers look right once they are in place. A good cosmetic dentist will keep this removal of healthy tooth structure as conservative as possible.
In addition to helping you be realistic about your expectations regarding results of treatment, a Top Dentist will never tell you that a cosmetic procedure is pain free. Even tooth whitening, the least invasive and most popular cosmetic dental treatment, can cause discomfort for some patients. Look for a cosmetic dentist who offers options for coping with and limiting pain – not one who claims that his or her patients never experience pain.
Every experienced cosmetic dentist should have an extensive portfolio of before and after photos and reliable testimonials. Some dentists are known for being the “go to” cosmetic provider for movie stars, beauty pageant participants and TV makeover shows. If you can get an appointment with one of these “celebrity dentists” (and afford their prices), that’s fantastic. However, not all top cosmetic dentists have a bunch of celebrity endorsements. The number one way to identify a great cosmetic dentist is through referrals from everyday people. Previous patients can give you the low down on their results and their experience during the consultation and procedure phases. This ensures that you get five star treatment whether you are famous or not.