Focus: Cosmetic Dentist

On the frontline with the professionals who work to create 'smiles' to remember.

Jim Williams

HealthKey.com contributor

June 7, 2010


Are you smiling more these days? If so, it might be the product of a good cosmetic dentist. It's true. More people are opting to improve their looks, and teeth are no exception.

What They Do

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry states that a cosmetic dentist provides comprehensive oral care that combines art and science to optimally improve dental health, aesthetics and function. In other words, they create better smiles.

A cosmetic dentist focuses on the improvement of a patient's mouth, teeth and smile. Cosmetic dentists use new technology and lasers to perform many of their treatments.

Some of the services a cosmetic dentist performs are teeth whitening, veneers, dental implants, gum lifts, restoring chipped and cracked teeth and putting in tooth-colored fillings.

Qualifications and Education

According to the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation, dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level, pre-dental education prior to admittance. Most dental students have at least a bachelor's degree before entering dental school, although a few applicants are accepted to dental school after 2 or 3 years of college and complete their bachelor's degree while attending dental school.

Cosmetic dentists must complete a Doctor of Dental Science degree program, plus a residency program and state licensure are needed.

Compensation and Demand

Employment of cosmetic dentists is projected to grow by 16 percent through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS states that the median salary for general dentists is $142,870. Cosmetic dentists to earn a bit more, though, with earnings varying according to number of years in practice, location and hours worked.