Might Not Have Considered

What is considered Cosmetic Dentistry?

Despite its booming popularity, cosmetic dentistry is often surrounded by questions and uncertainty. Some people associate it with fake smiles and Hollywood dentists, while some find out that fixing their chipped tooth might actually fit under the cosmetic category for their dental plan. keep reading to find out what cosmetic dentistry is, and how to know if dental insurance will cover it

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

The generally accepted definition for cosmetic dentistry is the use of dental treatments and procedures to improve the appearance of the teeth and mouth. This simply means that cosmetic dentistry typically deals with personal preferences, not health issues. However, some procedures may fix an existing health issue as well as correct the appearance. Procedures like this can help correct alignment, color, arrangement or shape.

Teeth Whitening/Bleaching

Teeth whitening is performed when the patient wants a brighter and whiter smile. This procedure can be performed to reduce staining and discoloration or simply improve the teeth based on their personal preferences. Numerous options for teeth whitening go from in-office bleaching from your dentist to other less expensive options like whitening trays, gels, strips and toothpastes. This is entirely cosmetic dental work.


Bonding uses a composite resin material to repair broken or chipped teeth and even build up the edges of crooked teeth to make them look straighter. Dentists often use a similar material to fill cavities, and because it is more visually appealing than the longer-lasting metal amalgam, many insurance companies will not cover as much of the cost. It is almost invisible, so if you need to repair a scratch or chip, it blends in with your other teeth. This is often used for non-cosmetic procedures too.


Onlays and inlays are suggested when there is structural damage to a tooth. An onlay or inlay is a cross between a crown and filling. It fulfills the purpose of a filling, to prevent future decay and cavities, and fits over the tooth like a crown (though it doesn’t completely cover the tooth). Onlays and inlays are more structurally secure than regular fillings and are used when someone has a cavity so large that it would endanger the tooth structure to use a softer substance like metal amalgam or resin composite. They are made of porcelain in a laboratory exactly pertaining to the specific damage on the tooth rather than being created directly against the tooth. After receiving them from the laboratory, the dentist bonds them to the damaged area. Unless it is made out of gold instead of porcelain, the onlay or inlay is invisible and appears no different from the rest of the teeth. This could occasionally be considered cosmetic.


Veneers are thin shells bonded to the front surface of the teeth in order to change the appearance and make it more pleasing. These can be made of porcelain or composite resin materials depending on preference. Veneers can cover teeth that are discolored, worn down, chipped or broken, uneven or misaligned, have gaps, or are irregularly shaped. One major advantage of getting veneers is that they usually have a natural tooth appearance. These are very rarely considered a necessary procedure for the health of the patient.

Tooth Implants

Implants are titanium replacement tooth roots that are screwed into the jawbone to support a false tooth. Their main purpose is to replace missing teeth and prevent jawbone deterioration. In addition to providing a more stable false tooth than bridges or dentures, dental implants also function to trick the jawbone into believing that the tooth is still there, preventing future bone loss in the jaw. Due to increasing success rates, implants are beginning to replace bridges and partial dentures when dealing with tooth loss. Despite the proven health benefits, some insurance plans still consider it a luxury and may not cover much of the procedure.

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