What Is a Cos­met­ic Dentist?

Mod­ern den­tistry is about so much more than just keep­ing your teeth and gums healthy. Once you’ve tak­en care of the basics, you can now start to think about any imper­fec­tions you would like to fix. While it was once reserved for the rich and the famous, cos­met­ic den­tistry is now more afford­able and acces­si­ble than ever before.

This means that cosmetic dentists are more in demand than ever before. You might be surprised to learn that your usual dentist also offers cosmetic dentistry, and this could open the door for exciting new treatments that will transform your smile. In this guide, we’re exploring the role of the cosmetic dentist and how you can make the most of this treatment opportunity.

What is a cosmetic dentist?

A cosmetic dentist is one that has taken additional training to specialise in cosmetic dental treatments. These are different to routine, preventative and restorative care, as the purpose of the treatments they offer is purely aesthetic.

Working as a cosmetic dentist requires an artistic touch. It’s often about being able to understand the symmetry of the features and offer enhancements that look natural and in-keeping with the rest of the teeth.

Cosmetic dentists often provide treatments such as:

  • Teeth whitening

  • Composite bonding

  • Veneers

  • Crowns (for aesthetic purposes)

  • Braces

  • Gum shaping

  • Smile makeovers

What is the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a regular dentist?

Your regular dentist may offer all of these treatments if you ask, but they might not have extensive experience. In order to become a cosmetic dentist, you will first need to complete your general dental training. At this stage, you will be able to work as a dentist and provide treatment such as fillings and extractions.

In order to demonstrate commitment to cosmetic dentistry, dentists can choose to undertake additional training. This would usually be in the form of a MSc or PgDip, which is short for a Master’s degree or postgraduate diploma. Courses vary in length from one to three years. Once qualified, you would then expect a cosmetic dentist to build their portfolio with specific treatments.

What are the responsibilities of a cosmetic dentist?

A cosmetic dentist often works alongside the rest of the dental team to provide advice and support to patients. They are responsible for consulting with patients and helping them to understand the options available to them. They also carry out the following tasks:

  • Assessing oral health to make sure the patient is healthy enough for treatment to be effective

  • Taking X-rays and digital scans of teeth for digital modelling and design

  • Creating treatment plans alongside treatment coordinators

  • Carrying out treatment according to the treatment plan

  • Aftercare and follow up treatment where required

What treatments do cosmetic dentists provide?

These are some of the most common treatments carried out by cosmetic dentists in the UK.

Teeth whitening

Perhaps the most accessible and affordable cosmetic treatment available, teeth whitening is growing in popularity as a way to remove stains that are trapped deep in the tooth material. Any dentist can carry out this treatment, but a cosmetic dentist might offer accelerated or enhanced treatment plans based on their skills and experience.


Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that fit on the front of the teeth. These help to conceal chips, cracks, gaps, crooked teeth and discolouration. You could also opt for composite veneers, which involves applying resin to the teeth and then shaping it as required.

Composite bonding

This modern treatment involves placing tooth-coloured resin directly on the teeth before shaping it and curing it with UV light. The result is an instant transformation that can dramatically improve the appearance of a single tooth or multiple teeth.

Teeth straightening

There are many different methods for teeth straightening available, including fixed and removable aligners. Your cosmetic dentist may also be trained in orthodontics, which will allow them to oversee this type of treatment plan.

Smile Makeovers

A Smile Makeover is a broad term for a collection of treatments that aim to improve the aesthetic appearance of your smile. This type of treatment plan is highly flexible and is therefore popular with patients with varying budgets.

Can anyone carry out cosmetic dental work?

Only a qualified dentist should carry out cosmetic dental work, including teeth whitening. It might seem like an easy treatment, but there are risks associated with teeth whitening that untrained individuals won’t know about.

Over-whitening the teeth can make them permanently sensitive, while the chemicals used could also cause burns to the gums, cheeks, lips and tongue if used incorrectly.

Is it better to go overseas for treatment?

The short answer is no. There aren’t any instances where overseas treatment is superior to treatment in the UK. While you might stand to save money, it could end up costing you a lot more in the long term.

With overseas treatment, there are no guarantees that the dentist treating you is qualified to do so. Without the backing of the General Dental Council (GDC) you could end up being treated by a trainee dentist.

Another issue with overseas treatment is that we often see it go wrong. If something goes wrong with treatment in the UK, you have legal protections and your dentist will have to put it right. If something goes wrong with overseas treatment, there is no such protection. You would then have to pay the cost of putting things right, and sometimes this isn’t even possible due to irreversible damage to your natural teeth.

How do I choose a cosmetic dentist?

You should first ask your routine dentist if they offer cosmetic dentistry. You might be surprised to learn how they can help you. You can then ask for a referral or recommendation. When meeting with cosmetic dentists, ask to see examples of their previous work. You can also check what additional training they have taken to achieve their status as a cosmetic dentist.

Ready to explore cosmetic treatment options? Book a consultation with our team today to learn more about the treatments we offer and how these might be used to transform your smile and boost your confidence.