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Cosmetic Dentist

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Who Defines It?

Cosmetic dentistry essentially refers to a collection of treatments, procedures and products that when skillfully used with creativity and talent.... results in an aesthetic outcome that meets or exceeds what a patient defines as acceptable or perfect.

Or at least it should be. Too often it seems, a patient may feel he/she has been unjustly talked into or convinced that something less should be acceptable since the ideal was not attainable.

Vague - Loose Definitions

In general terms, a dentisty who performs any number.... from a couple to perhaps several.. may or may not regard or market themselves as a Cosmetic Dentist. There is no professional "policing" of the term as there is with Orthodontist, Periodontist, Oral Surgeon, Prosthodontist and Pediatric Dentist.

An exceptionally talented and experienced General Dentist may be very good at orthodontics, periodontics, oral surgery, prosthodontics or childrens dentistry (any one or a combination) but will NOT use the formal title in their practice description or service offerings that suggests advanced specialization (by virtue of formal university or post graduate level training).

Recognized Post Graduate Training: Facilities and Resources

All fields of general dentistry and the different fields of specialization have numerous resources that serve to advance dentistry professionals in the areas of specialization or extra special, unique areas of interest that oftentimes exceeds what was or is currently available in traditional dental schools.

Las Vegas Institute (LVI) is widely known and recognized to provide superb post graduate training at several levels in "cosmetic dentistry" and "neuromuscular dentistry." Virtually all facets of a cosmetic treament are covered.. from start to finish... with great detail.

American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (ACCD) is another popular and revered training resource for those doctors who have a unique eye and talent for dental cosmetics that they wish to develop or hone in an effort to provide the best outcomes for their patients.

Professional Dental Organizations, which number in the hundreds, including national, state and local chapters of dental societies, organizations that have a specialized focus on a procedure type (dentofacial orthopedics, implant dentistry, etc), state dental shool programs and specialized training that is product or service specific (usually offered by manufacturers - distributors of dental products and equipment).

Lots of Resources and the Option to Use

Like any area of technical or professional endeavor and pursuit... there are individuals who seek to learn the most to provide the best.... and there are those who don't. This applies to dentistry, engineeering, education, welding, lawyers, medical doctors, auto mechanics.... you name it.... the list is endless.

As a general rule (certainly not a guarantee) an individual who immerses him/herself in every training or retraining opportunity will probably function better than the individual who doesn't.

And of course those professionals, tradesmen and craftsmen who are selective in participating in advanced training programs, seminars, exercises and workshops are doing so to develop particular skills and talents in the things the enjoy doing the most of ... at a level of competency that exceeds the average.

Which Cosmetic?

Will a dentist who excels at developing veneer smile line makeover treatment plans be equally skilled with porcelain crown replacements? A dentist who can do magic with composite resin bonding ... will he or she be equally magical with onlays or inlays? How about tooth colored amalgam replacements?

How much experience?

Is five (5) years good ..... or would 20 (20) years be better? There is no predetermined definitive answer. A person can have 20 years of experience but only uses what was learned and practiced 20 years ago. Similarly, a person may indicate he/she has the latest training but has only used it once... and perhaps only with marginal success.

Due Diligence

Patients seeking cosmetic treatment.... or a functional treatment where cosmetics are secondary, yet still important, should verify what they have read, heard or seen with indisputable and observable fact.

Dentistry is becoming more complex and all encompassing. The uses of some procedures and products almost require that the desired result be obtained the first time... or with minor modifications, the second time. Certainly not the third or fourth attempt at treatment.

Expanding the check list

Finding check lists or sample questions to ask dentists about general services isn't difficult to do with the internet resources available. For the most part they can be helpful.

The list below is similar but has refinements to help a consumer verify truisms and avoid falsehoods:
  • DDS and DMD Degrees: pretty much a given

  • University - Dental School level post graduate training

  • Skills Training for specialized equipment: Cone beam catscans, specialized diagnostic equipment, dental lasers (single or multi purpose), jaw movement - articulation, etc.

  • Ownership or investment in advanced technologies: 3-D imaging, specialty lasers, dedicated diagnostic devices (cavity detection, oral cancer, gum disease, etc)

  • Use of well known training resources: verify hours - courses taken (LVI, AACD)

  • Use of local training resources: verify hours - courses, CEU's accumulated

  • Use of advanced technologies: verify length of time, number of patients treated

  • Visual Documentation of successful treatment: pictures, with multiple examples of similar treatments but with increase in complication factors (easy versus difficult)

  • If Testimonials are used (not permitted in some states): verify them - some testimonials on websites are "fill in the blank type."

  • Multiple Procedures: verify equal talents for different restoratives (veneers, replacement of veneers, new crowns, replacement crowns, bonding, porcelain overlays, etc)

  • Years of experience: good, years of experience with a given cosmetic procedure better

  • Evidence is Lacking: avoid dentists who lack the most, consider and reconsider those with most or all

  • Avoid Generalization: just because a dentist is outstanding with one procedure, don't assume equal talents across the board (new, first time veneers versus replacing 20 year old veneers)

  • A Positive to Look For: True artisans and creative technicians love talking about what they do and provide details beyond belief and will have the evidence to show it off

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