Working with a cosmetic dentist can help correct a variety of dental issues and achieve results you can truly smile about. But before you begin the exciting journey toward a new smile, it’s important to do your homework and select a cosmetic dentist who is an expert and has the experience and qualifications necessary to perform your procedure.
So how do you know if your cosmetic dentist is an expert in his or her field? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll provide an overview of cosmetic dentistry and share what characteristics and qualifications you should look for, as well as some key questions to ask when vetting a cosmetic dentist.
What is a Cosmetic Dentist?
Cosmetic dentistry generally refers to dental work that improves the appearance of teeth, gums and/or bite. Cosmetic dentistry achieves patient goals through improvements to the color, position, shape, size, alignment and overall appearance of teeth.
Cosmetic dentistry is a growing specialty, and the number of cosmetic dentists continues to rise. However, the American Dental Association does not recognize cosmetic dentistry as a specialty area, which means virtually any dentist can call himself or herself a cosmetic dentist.
With such variation in the field of cosmetic dentistry, it is important to look for certain qualifications and characteristics when choosing a cosmetic dentist. Here are a few key considerations when deciding your dental care:
- Referrals – Most experts agree that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, and for good reason. A recommendation from a trusted friend or family member goes a long way, doesn’t it? So, start there – do you know someone who has worked with a cosmetic dentist? Do you like his or her smile? If your friend or family member had a positive experience, ask them to refer you.
- Focus on Cosmetic Dentistry – The fact that cosmetic dentistry is not recognized as a specialty also means that some practitioners may tout their expertise in this area, but in reality, only a portion of their practice is dedicated to cosmetic dentistry. Be sure to ask about your dentist’s practice focus, as well as years of experience as a cosmetic dentist.
- Awards, Accreditations and Continuing Education – A skilled cosmetic dentist should be committed to continual learning in order to provide you with care that is based on the latest research and best practices. When considering a cosmetic dentist, examine his or her website and search for any practice awards he or she may have won, industry-specific accreditations and continuing education – anything that demonstrates a commitment to providing you with cutting-edge care and a mastery of the latest dental techniques. When in doubt, simply ask your dentist to describe his or her philosophy on continuing education and commitment to staying abreast of the latest dental techniques.
- Communicate – The best way to ensure that your objectives are clear and achievable is to clearly communicate with your dentist. Explain what areas you wish to improve and ask questions – the more you communicate with your provider, the less likely it is that you will be surprised or disappointed with the care you receive.
- Office Environment – You can often learn a lot about a dentist and his or her office based on the environment and attitudes of staff. Be sure to speak with the front desk staff and dental assistants and hygienists – ask for their feedback but also simply observe their interactions with patients and each other. The overall atmosphere of a practice is important – if it makes you feel tense or uncomfortable, it may not be the best fit.
- Technology – Ask questions about what technology your potential dentist uses in his or her cosmetic practice. If in the office for a visit or consultation, take note of the equipment in the exam rooms – does it look modern and up-to-date or medieval and scary? (If the latter is true, running would be advisable).
Questions to ask
- May I talk with one of your patients? Your prospective dentist is applying for a job as your care provider, so why not ask him or her for references? Any dentist who is proud of his or her work will be happy to connect you with one of their “success stories.” A reference can help provide you with a helpful, patient perspective and may even alleviate some of your fears or anxieties about the process.
- Can I see some before and after photos? Most cosmetic dentists jump at the chance to show off their best work so before and after photos are a pretty safe bet. Side-by-side comparisons can be helpful in getting a feel for the practitioner’s skill. Ask to see photos from patients whose situation and desired outcomes were similar to yours in order to accurately gauge what potential exists.
- What aspect of care do your patients say they appreciate the most? Every cosmetic dentistry style and approach differs – this question can help you get a feel for what the process will look like with each dentist.
The right people for the job
At [practice name], cosmetic dentistry is what we do. Our experience, expertise and comprehensive approach achieve positive results and are sure to create a smile you will love. Contact us today at [phone] or email us at [email] to book a FREE consultation now.