Esthetic vs. Cosmetic Dental Treatment

Differences Between “Esthetic” and “Cosmetic” Dental Treatment

We believe there are important differences between “esthetic” and “cosmetic” dental treatment. Cosmetic treatment implies treatment that is done strictly for visual appearance and is not substantive. On the other hand, esthetic treatment goes far deeper than just visual attractiveness. It also requires harmony and balance. This begins with a visually attractive balance of form between all the teeth, between the teeth and gums, and between the teeth, gums, and other features of the face. However, only when this visual attractiveness is combined with comfort, health, and durability, do we believe that dental treatment should be considered truly beautiful. These qualities are only predictably achieved when biomechanical harmony between opposing teeth (or restorations), the jaw muscles, and jaw joints (TMJ’s) is combined with visual attractiveness. It also requires a healthy periodontium (gum and supporting bone tissues). We believe that achieving harmony and balance both visually and functionally should be a fundamental goal of all esthetic treatment (see “Dental Biomechanical Harmony – the Key to Predictable Dental Comfort, Health, and Esthetics”, “Biomechanical Disharmony – Problems, Evaluation, and Treatment”, “Restoring Damaged and Unattractive Teeth”, and “Periodontal Disease, Tooth Loss, and Whole Body Health”).

Esthetic Dental Treatment Choices and Differences

Our office provides esthetic treatments that include tooth whitening, esthetic recontouring, composite veneers, and a wide variety of all ceramic veneer and crown types. While these technologies and materials make it possible for us to duplicate the visual qualities of natural teeth with incredible accuracy and realism, there are several important differences between the many treatment and material types currently available. They differ in such important qualities as translucency (how clear or opaque they are), color or shade stability, strength and durability, biocompatibility (how they interact with the gums, teeth, and other tissues of the mouth), cost, and the amount of tooth structure that must be removed to use them. These differences are important because every patient’s wants and needs are unique. Therefore, the best choice of esthetic material and treatment type is a highly individual matter and varies from patient to patient and even from tooth to tooth for any one patient. Ultimately this choice should depend upon the patient’s visual appearance requirements and biomechanical considerations of comfort, health, and durability. Whatever the choice, we believe that achieving all these objectives should be the goal of anyone wanting to change the appearance of their smile.