What Makes Cosmetic Dentistry Different To General Dentistry?

FAQ #1: What Is Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry describes dental procedures and treatments that enhance the appearance of the teeth or smile. It includes procedures that change the colour and shape of teeth or that fill in gaps or replace missing teeth. Very often, Cosmetic Dentistry procedures are considered to be an elective procedure because they are usually done at the request of the individual for the purpose of changing their appearance, rather than being done to treat dental disease.


Some of the procedures that could be considered Cosmetic Dentistry are:

(You can click on the links above to learn more about each type of treatment).

If any of these treatments is done to treat dental disease or damage to the teeth, it wouldn’t be considered ‘Cosmetic Dentistry’. So, if a front tooth was broken and a crown or veneer was needed to rebuild the tooth, this would be considered ‘general dentistry’. If a crown or veneer was placed on a front tooth with the purpose of changing its appearance (shape, colour, apparent alignment), this would be considered to be a cosmetic dental procedure (as it’s elective, not done to treat disease or damage).

Similarly, many people prefer to have tooth-coloured (white) fillings placed if they have a cavity: so placement of a white filling after decay has been removed from a tooth is a general dental procedure. If someone had an amalgam filling that was sound (dental-speak meaning that nothing was wrong with it) but they wanted it removed and replaced with a white filling, this would be classified as cosmetic dentistry.

You can see that, while the treatments are practically identical, they become ‘cosmetic’ when they are done as a cosmetic choice.

It’s also important to know that Cosmetic Dentistry is not considered an area of specialisation in Australia. You can read more about that in this FAQ.