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The Misconception of Cosmetic Dentistry: It’s All About Vanity

Chances are either you or someone you know has chipped, broken or knocked-out one of their teeth. Rarely does a season of soccer, basketball, baseball, football, or lacrosse pass without this scary type of injury occurring. Tooth damage can even occur in simple household accidents or falls. When the unpleasantness of a tooth injury hits, the instinctual response is to call the dentist for an emergency visit.

What you may not know is that repairing or replacing teeth damaged by these types of accidents is considered cosmetic dentistry. While this type of dental work improves the appearance of teeth, cosmetic dentistry does not exclusively benefit the aesthetics of a smile. Cosmetic dental procedures also aim to strengthen teeth and restore or improve their functionality.

Why the misconception exists

There is a stereotype often associated with the term “cosmetic” which automatically assumes money is being thrown around for vanity’s sake. People often assign the same stigma to cosmetic dentistry because they do not realize that these procedures are typically performed to correct or repair disfigured, malaligned, missing, decayed, chipped, cracked, or severely stained teeth. So despite the negative connotation of the name, cosmetic dentistry is not merely a process of beautification, it also serves a corrective, health-centered purpose as well.

Information and education are essential to debunking the vanity stereotype of cosmetic dentistry. In an effort to do just that, we have listed some common cosmetic dental procedures and materials and their definitions below:

  • Composite fillings – A tooth-colored resin-based material bonded to restore teeth due to decay, fracture, or spacing issues
  • Cosmetic recontouring – The process of smoothing rough edges or rounding corners of teeth to get a harmonious shape and bite when a tooth is chipped or disfigured
  • Veneers – Thin, tooth-colored porcelain or glass shells bonded to the front of teeth to improve appearance
  • Crowns or Bridges – Strengthens or replaces weak or missing teeth
  • Dentures – complete or partial replacement for missing teeth
    (You wouldn’t call your grandfather vain for wearing dentures, would you?)
  • Dental Implants – metal screw placed in bone beneath gums to support replacement teeth
  • Professional Whitening – safe bleach materials that brighten discolored tooth enamel

Orthodontia is also a form of cosmetic dentistry and, believe it or not, there are those who are critical about kids getting braces. Their argument is based on the thought that societal norms force our children to focus on their appearance rather than oral health. We couldn’t disagree more! Considering a child’s oral development, a small mouth with untreated crooked teeth could lead to overcrowding. Without enough space in between teeth, they become very difficult for to keep clean, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Not to mention, a healthy smile is a proven confidence booster—a crucial factor for a young person’s developing self-esteem!

The reality…


89% of people partake in cosmetic dentistry in order to improve appearance or self-esteem (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry 2013). The most common cosmetic procedure is crown and bridge work—strong, restorative caps used for fractured, chipped, disfigured, or root canal treated teeth. This cosmetic procedure intends to improve the overall appearance and physical structure of teeth, preserving your smile’s beauty and health for years to come.

Our advice when considering cosmetic dentistry is to be open-minded and ignore the stereotypes associated with the word “cosmetic.” Always try to objectively compare the costs versus the benefits of the procedure you are considering. Remember, you only have one smile so it’s important to keep it healthy and strong.