Many people think of cosmetic dentistry as just dental treatments that improve the look of your teeth, like getting them whitened, but you’d be surprised how many dental treatments fall within the cosmetic dentistry branch of dental health. Let’s take a look at the different types of cosmetic dentistry and discover the often misunderstood difference between general and cosmetic dentistry. 

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is focused on improving the appearance of a person’s smile. Dental offices that offer cosmetic dental services often treat things like: 

  • tooth discoloration
  • misaligned teeth
  • teeth that are misshapen
  • chipped or cracked teeth
  • gaps or spaces between teeth

Difference between Cosmetic and General Dentistry

It isn’t uncommon for patients to look at that list and think, “But isn’t that regular dentistry?!” While the appearance of a smile and the alignment of your teeth do have an impact on your overall dental health, there are differences to note between cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry:

  • a general dentist is a primary dental care provider
  • preventative dental care services are offered by general dentists, like teeth cleanings, dental fillings, bridges, and crowns
  • Cosmetic dental services focus on beautifying a smile and offer treatments that improve the appearance of teeth and gums rather than restoring health and function.

Types of Cosmetic Dentistry

There are many types of cosmetic dental treatments, with the primary types of cosmetic dental services being:

Teeth Whitening

Also known as “teeth bleaching”, this dental procedure brightens and whitens the teeth from any discoloration or staining. It’s important to note that whitening done at a dental office is different and more powerful than the kind that can be bought at the store. Though, there is still an at-home option for whitening performed by a dentist. 


This is one of those dental services many people are surprised to learn falls under cosmetic dentistry. Veneers are thin shells made of porcelain or other materials that are custom-made for your teeth and cemented to the front side of a tooth. Veneers are used to treat many dental conditions, such as a crooked tooth, discolored or chipped teeth, and to cover spaces between teeth. 


Another surprise type of dental treatment that falls beneath the “cosmetic” umbrella, a dental implant is a metal device used to replace missing teeth. The implant acts as the tooth root and can anchor artificial teeth like crowns, bridges, or dentures.


Crowns, or caps, are custom-made to fit over an entire tooth after it has been prepared. They’re usually made of acrylic or porcelain and are fused to metal to treat poorly shaped or badly decayed teeth, broken or chipped teeth, or have had large fillings. Also, a dental treatment that isn’t usually considered cosmetic, but it most certainly is.

Tooth Bonding Orthodontic Treatment

Most people see orthodontic dental treatments as braces and pretty much only for kids or teenagers, but many adults get cosmetic dental treatments to realign their teeth. Also, metallic braces aren’t the only solution for adults, now there is Invisalign. Using clear aligners that are created from computer-generated images and impressions of your mouth, a series of molds are created to move teeth into the desired position. Over the months, Invisalign pushes the teeth steadily using gentle pressure to create tooth movement and correct them. 

Dental Health Can Be Cosmetic & Beneficial

Many of the dental treatments listed help both your overall dental health and improve the appearance of your smile. The main difference between cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry is that one is considered elective and the other is important to improve the health of your teeth and gums. Here at Ellerslie 66 Dental Clinic, we strive to make dental care affordable, and accessible to all of our patients. We will work with you to find a treatment plan that works for your financial situation.

If you have questions about any of the services above, our team of compassionate professionals can help you understand all of your options. Contact us now or give us a call at (780) 705-9866.

Yuping Li
Yuping Li