Cosmetic dentistry is not recognized as a specialty by the American Dental Association; therefore, any general dentist can deem themselves a cosmetic dentist. This makes it hard for patients to find a dentist with skill and night credentials to complete a cosmetic makeover. Here are some tips on how to appropriately search for a cosmetic dentist.
In dentistry, as in any other trade profession, knowledge and skill is passed on from masters of the trade. A dentist formally trained to perform cosmetic procedures is a prosthodontist (a specialist in reconstructive dentistry) or a general dentist with a degree in general dentistry (required to complete 1-2 years of ADAA accredited programs). There may be other dentists without formal training in cosmetic procedures who express interest and talent in the field. Patients should not hesitate to ask their dentists questions about their training.
The most well known association for cosmetic dentistry is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. However, cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association and membership with AACD alone does NOT automatically guarantee the dentist is good. This only shows that a dentist is serious about the field because he is willing to invest in the membership. AACD’s mission is to provide educational opportunities, promotion, and support of a respected credential and service as a user friendly and inviting form for exchange of ideas.
- Before-and-After Photos of Real Cases
An experienced cosmetic dentist will have an album or online gallery of before-and-after cases for your review. Ask the dentist to show you a case similar to yours.
- Technology and Anesthesia
Dentists interested in modern procedures often have advanced technology, such as digital X-rays, intraoral cameras, chair side monitors, and a dental laser. Ask your potential dentist about the technology in his or her office. You may also want to find out what kind of anesthesia or sedation is offered.
How do you feel in the dentist’s office? Is the staff friendly? Do you feel like you can ask questions, and do you like the answers you receive?
- Time Requirements
How long will it take the dentist to finish your smile makeover? Does he or she have any vacations planned during your treatment? It is important to find out the how long the whole treatment process will take in order to schedule any future plans.
- Payment Options
Since insurance does not cover cosmetic smile enhancements, you will probably want to work with a dentist who accepts credit cards or offers payment plans. Many cosmetic dentists work with CareCredit, Chase Health Advantage, or Wells Fargo for third party patient financing, as well.
What are the dentist's office hours? Do they suit your schedule? Will the dentist treat your entire family?
Cosmetic dental enhancements can require multiple visits. Is the dentist’s office convenient to your home or work?
Does the dentist offer digital imaging or wax ups so that you can see the predicted results before you commit to treatment?
Don't let just anyone try their hand at improving your smile. While cosmetic dentistry done correctly is safe, effective, and long lasting, when performed incorrectly, any dental procedure can cause problems. Be bold about interviewing your dentist. Some dentists offer a free cosmetic consultation so that you can meet and discuss your expectations. Once you find a dentist that meets most of your criteria, proceed with an exam and listen to his or her treatment plan. Discuss financing and scheduling. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the dentist's office. A beautiful, strong, comfortable smile that's built to last can improve your self-confidence and open doors of opportunity you never knew existed.