What’s The Difference Between Cosmetic And General Dentistry?

Written by Dr. Reuben Sim
Published: 23-01-2022

We often get emails from patients asking, “What is the difference between general dentistry versus cosmetic dentistry?” Now, in essence, as dentists, we graduate and we are able to do cosmetic or general dentistry, but what matters most is the experience in either general or cosmetic.


I will elaborate on this to you. General dentistry basically relates to being able to do things that’s got to do with the health of your teeth. For example, if you’ve got a hole in your teeth, you might want to do a filling. You’ve got a cracked tooth, you might want to do a crown. If you’ve got gum disease, you might want to do some cleaning or hygiene, or some root planning to allow your teeth to stay there for a long time. Root canals fall in the realm of general dentistry as well, because it allows you to eradicate any bacteria from the tooth to allow your tooth to stay in your mouth. All this forms the part of general dentistry.

Now, cosmetic dentistry is quite different. While cosmetic dentistry, the foundation of it is still health of the teeth, and your teeth needs to be healthy and in a good condition, general dentistry comes to support that, but cosmetic dentistry is something that’s optional, where it’s something that you don’t have to do, because it’s got nothing to do with health. It has got to do with being able to get you to smile more. It allows you to change the size, the shape, the length, all the alignment of your teeth — anything that’s got to do with cosmetics! So while cosmetic dentistry’s really important, general dentistry allows the teeth to get to a level of health, and cosmetic dentistry then comes on top of that. So whenever you see a cosmetic dentist, for example, you have to ensure that your teeth are healthy in a fixed place.

If the cosmetic dentist hasn’t given or spent enough time looking at the overall condition, that’s actually quite dangerous, because you want to ensure that the foundation is perfect before you build onto something, so you need to have x-rays taken, you need to have your nerve tested to make sure your teeth are healthy, you need to make sure your gums are healthy before you embark on a cosmetic journey.

Based on these two here, general dentistry versus cosmetic dentistry, they are symbiotic. They lean on each other to get a good result, so hopefully, this clarifies the myth or misconception on the difference between cosmetic versus general. Hopefully this has been helpful. If you find someone who is confused about general versus cosmetic, feel free to share this with them, because it might help them make a decision in terms of what they’d like to do.