There is a secret that many cosmetic dentists want to hide from you: legally speaking, there is no such thing as a cosmetic dentist. In legal terms, the title cosmetic dentist means nothing, and essentially any dentist can claim to be one.
This means that you have to be especially careful when choosing a cosmetic dentist, because you have to learn how to separate the true cosmetic dentists from the pretenders.
Dental Training, Licenses, and Specialties
When dentists are trained, they all go through an accredited dental program that includes extensive education sufficient to ensure dentists have all the basic skills necessary to perform general dentistry procedures, such as examinations, basic periodontics, basic endodontics, and basic reconstructive dentistry. Dentists have to pass certain exams to demonstrate this knowledge before they are given a license.
For some types of dentistry, called specialties, dentists are required to have additional training in specific areas. Periodontics, endodontics, and pediatric dentistry are examples of these, though there are 9 total ones. In order to get licensed in these specialties, dentists are also required to take certain exams to show they have the necessary knowledge to practice as this specialty. Perhaps the closest specialty to cosmetic dentistry is prosthodontics, which focuses on procedures for restoring and replacing teeth.
But cosmetic dentistry isn’t one of these specialties. Dentists are allowed to claim that they are this type of dentist without any type of special training or experience. Essentially, most of the “cosmetic dentists” you see advertising have little specialized knowledge or experience.
How to Identify a True Cosmetic Dentist
However, some cosmetic dentists take their profession as seriously as if it were an actual specialty. They take the time to acquire specialized knowledge in the practice of cosmetic dentistry so that they know how to perform advanced cosmetic procedures.
You can identify these cosmetic dentists by looking at their profile page. Look for information about the Las Vegas Institute and other schools dedicated to training cosmetic dentists. Look for recognition by Invisalign and other providers of cosmetic dentistry tools and materials.
Finally, you should look for examples of a dentist’s work. A cosmetic dentist is proud to show many examples of his work, and has a smile gallery full of pictures that can help you understand the kind of results a dentist is capable of achieving.
And, ultimately, this is what separates true cosmetic dentists from others: the quality of their results.