What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic Dentistry Improves Appearance of a Patient's Smile.
Cosmetic Dentistry Improves Appearance of a Patient’s Smile.

Cosmetic dentistry (also called esthetic dentistry) is a broad term used to describe any dental service done to improve the appearance of a patient’s smile. Cosmetic procedures are a valuable part of dental care because of the transformative effect that improving a patient’s smile can have on a patient’s self-esteem and social wellbeing.

Common cosmetic services include veneers, crowns, tooth-colored fillings, bleaching, and gum contouring procedures.



A veneer is a thin layer of ceramic or composite material that can be cemented onto a natural tooth. Many significant esthetic problems, such as staining, discoloration, spaces, crowding, slight misalignment, erosion, and wear can be corrected using this conservative option with beautiful results.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Tooth-Colored Fillings are Similar to Silver Fillings
Silver Filling

Just like a silver filling, a tooth-colored filling is used to treat cavities, but it can also be used to reshape a tooth to improve its appearance. Another name for tooth-colored filling material is “dental composite”, which is basically a high strength plastic. Composite has two particular advantages. First, it is an alternative option for patients concerned with the mercury in silver filling, and second, composite comes in a variety of shades/colors that can very precisely match the color of your natural teeth.

Bleaching/ Whitening

Bleaching Tray
Bleaching Tray

There are two common methods for bleaching or whitening your teeth. The first option is in-office bleaching, which is done in the dental office with a high-powered bleaching agent. The second method is at-home bleaching and can be done with either a prescription bleaching agent in a customized bleaching tray, which you can get from your dentist, or with over-the-counter whitening products. Bleaching does come with certain risks and side effects, so if you are interested in whitening your teeth, please contact Dr. Limmer to schedule a consultation.

Gum Contouring

Example of Excess Gum Tissue

Sometimes a patient’s primary concern is not just the look of their teeth, but also the look of their gums. Patients may have excess gum tissue, gum recession, or asymmetries that negatively affect their smile; however, there are several periodontal procedures that can be done to improve these issues. Some contouring procedures are straightforward, while others can be quite complicated and require the help of a gum specialist (periodontist).

Is your “Cosmetic Dentist” a Prosthodontist?

It is important to know that cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty by the American Dental Association (ADA), and that any dentist can advertise as a “cosmetic dentist”, regardless of their level of training.

A prosthodontist is the only recognized dental specialist with formal, university-based training in the practice of cosmetic procedures. During his 3-year residency, Dr. Limmer gained valuable insight into what characteristics make a smile beautiful, how light, texture, shape, and material composition all influence the appearance of teeth, and how to understand patient preferences.