Cosmetic dentists, also known as aesthetic dentists, work to improve the appearance of teeth. The appearance of your smile can have a huge effect on your confidence, which means that cosmetic dentistry can be significant to your overall well-being. If you are not happy with the way your smile looks, consider seeing a cosmetic dentist for help.

What Is a Cosmetic Dentist?

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the aim of a cosmetic dentist is to make positive changes to patients’ teeth and smiles. Their practice extends far beyond simply whitening teeth. Cosmetic dentists can reposition teeth using braces, change their appearance using veneers, or replace metal dental fillings and crowns with tooth-colored alternatives. Some even use dental implants to replace missing teeth. Not all cosmetic dentists offer all these treatments, so it's important to research the specialist you plan to see to find out if they offer the treatment you need. Although you can get a referral to a cosmetic dentist from your general dentist, many people seek out these professionals on their own.

At the same time as making positive changes to the appearance of your smile, cosmetic dentists also strive to protect your overall dental health. Some cosmetic dental treatments, such as dental implants, have both aesthetic and functional value.

Reasons to See a Cosmetic Dentist

Most people see a cosmetic dentist because they are unhappy with some aspect of their smile. If your teeth are discolored, crooked, chipped, or cracked, or you have one or more teeth missing, you can contact a cosmetic dentist to find out whether they offer treatments that can address those issues.

Teeth whitening is one of the most common treatments performed by cosmetic dentists. Using a simple procedure involving laser light and hydrogen peroxide, a cosmetic dentist can remove stains from your teeth, restoring them to a brighter shade of white. The effects of teeth whitening are not permanent, but you can usually have the treatment again if the stains return.

Cosmetic dentists may offer other treatments, such as porcelain veneers. This treatment involves fitting thin pieces of porcelain to the front surfaces of teeth to hide discoloration, cracks or chips in the tooth. Veneers can make slightly crooked front teeth look much straighter. It is a minimally invasive option for many people who want to improve their smile. Only a very tiny amount of tooth surface is removed to bond the veneer to the tooth, which means this treatment is typically painless.

Some cosmetic dentists offer treatments that have practical as well as aesthetic benefits. For example, some cosmetic dentists offer dental implants, which replace missing teeth with sturdy, permanent replacements. Dental implants not only fill in gaps in your smile, but they also provide you with prosthetics that could help you eat more easily and protect you from losing bone density in your jaw. The procedure for fitting dental implants is quite invasive and is not a suitable option for every person with missing teeth, so it is important to speak to a qualified cosmetic dentist to find out if this treatment is right for you. If you can’t have dental implants, your cosmetic dentist may be able to suggest an alternative, such as a dental bridge, which attaches a false tooth to the two adjacent teeth.

Certification and Referrals

As well as their DDS degree, cosmetic and aesthetic dentists also receive accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. You can check whether a cosmetic dentist is an AACD member by entering their name and location into the search tool on the AACD website. You can also find and review certified dental specialists on CareDash.

Choosing a dentist who is an AACD member ensures your dental specialist has undergone the necessary training to carry out cosmetic dentistry work. Accredited members of the AACD have completed the association’s accreditation process, which involves performing a broad range of cosmetic dental treatments on at least five patients.

If you want to explore your cosmetic dentistry options, a good place to start is to ask your general dentist for a referral to an aesthetic who can improve your smile. For more information, see this article on choosing a dental specialist.

Questions to Ask Your Cosmetic Dentist

During your first appointment, your cosmetic dentist will examine your teeth and talk to you about the concerns you have about your smile and overall dental health. A cosmetic dentist can give advice about the types of treatment that might be right for you, including information about the outcomes you can expect from the treatment.

Here are some questions you might want to ask your cosmetic dentist:

  • What procedure do you recommend to improve the appearance of my smile?
  • Are there any alternatives to this procedure, and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
  • What experience do you have of performing this kind of treatment?
  • Can you show me some before and after images, so I know what result to expect?
  • What complications could result from my treatment?
  • How long will it take to recover from my treatment, and what should I do to speed my recovery?


Cosmetic dentists perform a broad range of procedures to improve the appearance of their patients’ smiles. If you are unhappy with the way your teeth look, see a cosmetic dentist to find out what options are available to help boost your confidence.