Cosmetic Dentists – Understanding the Training Requirements to Be a Specialist

You generally hear about the Atlanta cosmetic dentistry successes, but you don’t hear about the disasters. As reported by the TV show 20/20 …So while veneers can do wonders to brighten your smile and your life, a skilled dentist is key. But don’t rely solely on ads when making that choice because any dentist can claim he or she is a cosmetic specialist. There is no Georgia certification needed for dentists to call themselves an Atlanta cosmetic dentist and the American Dental Association (ADA) does not recognize “cosmetic dentistry” as a specialty because if your teeth fail (i.e. dental disaster) pretty teeth that do not function can do more harm than good. Some “clubs” or associations have been formed to try and lend credibility to the term “cosmetic dentist” but mostly they are just for marketing. Luckily there is an ADA specialty that recognizes true advanced training. A Prosthodontist is an Atlanta dentist who is committed to the aesthetic restoration of teeth including bridges, crowns/caps, dental implants, dentures, partial dentures, teeth whitening and veneers. Few people have ever heard of a Prosthodontist but before you spend thousands of dollars to have a beautiful smile, believe me, you want your teeth to function properly as well look beautiful so be sure to look for a good Prosthodontist. In fact the American College of Prosthodontists answers the question this way:

Is a prosthodontist different from a “cosmetic dentist”?

The American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties, and the ADA does not include “cosmetic dentistry” as a specialty. Prosthodontists receive extensive training and experience in dental esthetics and cosmetics during their graduate programs which currently last three years. Many cosmetic dentists receive training during seminars or a series of courses, but this training is usually limited to weekend or possibly week-long courses.

As for those enticing after pictures you might see on the walls or in albums in the dentist’s office, it turns out they can be very easy to come by. So too can the clubs and associations so don’t be fooled by all the claims. Do your research and find a good Prosthodontist.

Prosthodontists are Specialists in Dentistry

A Prosthodontist is a dentist who is committed to the esthetic restoration of teeth including bridges, crowns/caps, dental implants, dentures, partial dentures, teeth whitening and veneers. The vast majority of dentists are general dentists without ADA recognized advanced specialty training. Less than 100 dentists per year are chosen and accepted into Prosthodontic programs across the nation. The American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) ensures standards are maintained in the specialist field. Becoming a Prosthodontist requires an additional 3 years of specialty training after completing a general dentist degree. Training consists of rigorous preparation in head and neck anatomy, materials science, esthetics, function and occlusion (bite). Due to this extensive training, Prosthodontists are frequently called upon to treat complex cosmetic cases, full mouth rehabilitation and reconstructive dentistry, restoration of congenital malformations (cleft lip and palate, mouth deformations), TMJ related disorders, and victims of trauma or accidents.

What Dental Services Fall Under Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry, although still very focused on all around oral care and well being, revolves around practices and procedures that have a pleasing appearance as the ultimate goal. A cosmetic dentist can attack and usually repair all of the issues that make a patient feel uncomfortable about the current state of their smile.

Some of the normal procedures that would fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry are as follows:

Removing and Replacing Dark Metallic Fillings

Though some dentists today no longer use the metallic filler to repair cavities, there are thousands and thousands of people walking around with them and many of those people are a bit uncomfortable with the appearance of their teeth because of them.

There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the old style metallic fillings, in fact they serve the purpose of repairing a damaged tooth very well, they just happen to be a fairly unattractive way of repairing the problem.

A cosmetic dentist can easily remove the old, unsightly metallic filling and repair the cavity with a tooth colored bonding that will be un-noticeable even at a relatively close distance. The problem will be fixed just the same as it were with the metallic filling, but it will be done in a way that will keep the patients smile as attractive as possible.

Straightening Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can, at times, be the cause of some discomfort to some patients, but even if there is no physical discomfort a crooked tooth will always detract from the smiles beauty. Today’s cosmetic dentists have more options available to repair this problem that just painful metal braces.

There are options available today like invisible, removable aligners that will rectify the problem of a crooked smile with no pain to the patient at all. This incredible innovation is a huge positive for anyone who is looking to repair a potentially big dental issue, but who doesn’t want to deal with the pain or the embarrassment of having it done with bulky metal braces.


Cigarette smokers, coffee drinkers and tea drinkers can all suffer from dark stains that make their smile unattractive. A good cosmetic dentist can easily and painlessly eliminate this unsightly problem and most likely recommend a good over the counter product that will help keep it under control between regular dental visits.

Spaces between Teeth or Missing Teeth

Gaps between the teeth, whether they stem from an unaligned smile or from missing teeth can totally ruin an otherwise beautiful smile. A qualified cosmetic dentist will be able to fill the small gaps seamlessly with invisible aligners or create a custom plate to fill the holes left by missing teeth to create a perfectly beautiful and natural smile.

For many people, a smile is a big part of the first impression. Many people are too embarrassed or insecure about the problems that exist with their teeth and they become shy or withdrawn in social situations, for those people, cosmetic dentistry can solve many of the problems that they face on a daily basis in dealing with others. A good cosmetic dentist can fix virtually all of the problems associated with general dentistry, but will do so in a fashion that helps perfect your smile at the same time.

Regardless of the issue that you have with your smile, a good cosmetic dentist will likely be able to fix it relatively quickly and painlessly. If problems with your smile are holding you back in social situations, and you have the money to fix them, a cosmetic dentist could certainly be the answer to your problem.