How Do I Find the Best Cosmetic Dentist?

I am tempted to pick someone who takes my insurance plan.  Are there better ways to find someone good at cosmetic dentistry vs. general dental work?

Doctor Answers 17

How to find the best dentist

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There are many questions that should be answered before choosing a dentist. Some should include:
  • Am I choosing based on price?
  • Is location important?
  • Am I expecting something specific, as in cosmetics, or is the goal simply a new dental home?
The list of questions could go on and on. But when real technical issues are important, some homework should be involved.
Beware of simply choosing someone that is a member of a group. It is one thing to pay dues to an organization, it is quite another to have training and skills (both of which are not required for many memberships). While the AACD is a great organization, simply being a member isn't much to speak of.
If you are considering cosmetic procedures, ask to see photographs of that dentist's own work, especially with cases similar to yours. The more experienced cosmetic dentists either take their own photos (and may even have a small studio in their office) or hire someone to document their work. Be sure to ask if the photos you are seeing are their own work, and not "just like we do here" or simply a book purchased at a trade fair.
Talk with your friends and colleagues. Some have some great things to share about their dentist.
Meet and interview a few dentists and their staff. If a warm, caring environment with pleasant people is important to you, you may need to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. If you find an office that you think is a good fit, but can't quite pull the trigger, ask if there are some patients you can speak with or read their testimonials. You may find that many others were just like you and really did find the best dentist for them.
It all comes down to your individual goals. If "good enough" is good enough, then it shouldn't be too hard.

Help Finding the Best Cosmetic Dentists in My Area

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This is much more difficult to do today because every dentist who does porcelain crowns and veneers nowadays calls themselves a cosmetic dentist. What most people want is a cosmetic dentist who has been well trained, who is experienced, who has great artistic ability, who REALLY listens to you, and then someone who follows through and delivers what was promised.

Where do you find such a dentist?  Well, the internet is probably the best place to start searching for cosmetic dentists who you are thinking of evaluating to see if they are a match for you.

I would suggest doing a Google search for "porcelain veneers plus the city or county that you live in."  Look for a dentist who has many examples OF THEIR ACTUAL COSMETIC DENTISTRY, not just stock photography.

Read their bio.  How many years have they actually practiced dentistry?  Where did they get their post doctoral cosmetic training?  LVI or the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies has one of the most highly acclaimed programs for cosmetic dentistry in the world today.  Also, the dentist a member of any of the major cosmetic dentistry organizations, like the AACD (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry), ACE (Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics), etc.  Just from the web sites you'll get some good or uncertain feelings about the dentist.  Try to narrow your list to under five and then call their office.  Tell them what you're looking for and see how they respond.  It should be easy to see if they are genuinely concerned and want to help you, or too busy to answer any questions and give you any personalized care.  You should be able to narrow your choice down to 2-4 dentists.  Next make a cosmetic consultation.  Look at the office, how neat and professional is it.  Are there before and after photos demonstrating how proud the dentist is of the treatments he has been providing his cosmetic patients?  Do they see you on time?  Do they carefully listen to your concerns and show the confidence that they can solve your problems and deliver the kind of dentistry that will meet your expectations?  In many areas there are so few great cosmetic dentists that really stand out that it shouldn't be difficult to find one that you trust and and relate to.  Ask to see before and after photos of patients they have treated with dental problems that looked similar to theirs.  Do your homework and be careful whom you choose.  In our practice about one third of all the patients we treat are people who were dissatisfied with their previous cosmetic dentistry and are asking that we redo the porcelain veneers or crowns that were done by their last dentist.  I can't tell you enough how much better it is to do the treatment right the first time than having to redo someone else's treatment who was not able to meet the patient's expectations.

Good luck,

Dr. Norman Huefner

Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

Finding the best cosmetic dentist

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The best way to find a cosmetic dentist is to look at their before and after photos (be sure that they are not stock photos) and read their patient testimonials. See if they have performed cases that is similar to the type of treatment that you're seeking.

Organization memberships are nice and traing is important, but there is nothing as important as experience and innate talent.

Richard Champagne, DMD
Freehold Dentist

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Copious amounts of research, reviews, testimonials

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You know it actually against many state dental boards for us to claim "superiority" over another dentist. Be it cosmetic or general dentistry alike. Here are some good guidelines to help you choice WISELY:

  1. Before and Afters: Go to their office for a consultation. Make sure there are copious amounts of THEIR ACTUAL WORK and not some store bought book of cases done. Nothing speaks louder to their quality than previously cases done. Any 'cosmetic dentist' should have hundreds of smile examples for you to preview their work
  2. Ask to contact some of their previous patients. We sometimes, upon request, offer that a potential veneer patient can call and discuss the process with someone who's already gone through the process.
  3. Ask about their ceramist- A lot of the beauty of cosmetic dentistry is done by that of the ceramist and NOT the dentist. It pays to make sure that the cosmetic dentist is using a master ceramist. The dentist is really the 'architect' and the ceramist is really the 'builder'
  4. Online review sites- Online review sites are popping up everywhere. Many people can post good, bad or indifferent information about that cosmetic dentist. Basically, just do your research. This should help.

What should you consider when looking for the best cosmetic dentist?

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Are you looking for a top-quality cosmetic dentist? Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself while you research the best dentist:

  • What makes a dentist the best cosmetic dentist?

While there may not be one best dentist for every person, there are certain qualities that may make one cosmetic dentist better for you than another. The best dentists typically strive to deliver the highest quality they can.

This means they must continue their education, taking advanced courses in leading technology and procedures. These courses are expensive and time consuming, and only those committed to being the best will take the time and spend the money to continue their education year-in and year-out.

While dental schools teach a lot about basic dentistry, the best dentists continue to take advanced courses every year. These courses teach dentists how to get great-looking and also predictable results. Look for evidence that your dentist has accomplished a lot of continuing education -- and done so recently.

  • What is more important: insurance or quality of dentistry?

In this economy, we responsibly rely on insurance dollars when selecting healthcare providers. However, it is possible that if you don’t get to choose your dentist – and you rely solely on insurance -- you may end up with a restoration - or a new smile - you’re just not happy with.

Here is a happy medium: find a dentist who you like and use out-of-network insurance dollars towards your appointments. This way you can optimize your insurance benefit and still get to choose the quality of care you receive.

  • Where can you go and have a positive experience?

Maybe a bad dental experience in the past has you dreading your next dental visit. Most Americans hate going to the dentist. Some dentists understand this and have built patient-centered practices geared towards comfort and customer service. These practices (often called dental spas) understand what it takes to turn your dental appointments and/o your smile makeover into an enjoyable experience.

  • Does technology matter?

It does if you want high quality and conservative options. Dentistry has changed in leaps and bounds over the last decade or two. The switch to digital x-rays reduces radiation exposure by over 90%.

Special lights and lasers are being used to detect cavities at very early stages – thus helping to prevent a tooth needing a lifetime of aggressive dental procedures. And the switch to digital charts has drastically reduced paper waste. In the cosmetic dentistry field, advances in technology have brought more beautiful results and more conservative options.

If your dentist is staying up to date, he or she will know how to use minimally invasive techniques to deliver your smile makeover. If your dentist is committed to delivering top quality dentistry (whether it’s cosmetic, general or family dentistry), it will be obvious when you walk into his or her practice. If you walk into your dentist’s office and you see old equipment or sense that the place is dated – it may be time for a change.

  • What about experience, credentials, and training?

The achievement of fellowship or accreditation in one of the national dental academies usually means the dentist has gone through rigorous training and testing to achieve that status.

Oftentimes, this equates to better understanding and skill (and therefore a better result) when performing cosmetic or general procedures. The more recent the credentials, the more up-to-date the dentist had to be on knowledge of materials and procedures.

Research the American Academy Of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD)

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I have found that the members of the American Academy Of Cosmetic Dentistry are the best clinicians.

Cosmetic procedures are very demanding. In providing these services one has to fine tune their diagnostic skills, analyze the occlusion, etc. Be sure to view before and after photos and make sure he or she is a good listener and addresses your concerns.

DON'T respond to the flashiest ads.

How to Find the Best Cosmetic Dentist?

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Finding the best cosmetic dentist requires a little of work on your part, but the little effort certainly out weighs the benefits you will gain. Your best bet is to to do your research on line, regarding the dentist background, the reviews posted and the before and after cosmetic treatments the dentist has performed similar to your needs and wants.

Then making appointment with 2 or three of your top cosmetic dentists, you selected, for a consultation. At the consultation observe how detailed is their examination and consultation, and address all your questions, such as:

How many procedures similar to what I want have you performed? 
Is it a few times, or hundreds or thousands?
Usually a cosmetic dentist expert has performed at least a few hundred times that particular cosmetic procedure. 
Can the Cosmetic dentist show you a "mock up" in YOUR MOUTH, of how the results might look like ?
Does the cosmetic dentist, listens to your needs?
Do you have one option or several?
Listen if the cosmetic dentist is going over the pros, cons, risks and benefits of the procedure with you? and over all the options?

With these few questions, you will be getting a feel, If you want that cosmetic dentist to do the dental procedure for you or you are ready to move on.

Of course the next questions will be in regards to how many visits it takes? how long of an appointment time ? 
Does it involve any discomfort ? do you have an option to have sedation dentistry done while you have your cosmetic dentistry done ?

After, inquire regarding the cost, How much is the cosmetic dentistry going to cost ?
Do not get shocked if there are huge price differences, each cosmetic dentist fee differs, and it usually depends on the reputation, the expertise and the knowledge and know how to give you the best possible results in an efficient manner, AND use the least invasive procedure on you, to give you what you really want.

My Top 3 Questions to ask when searching for a great Cosmetic Dentist:

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While the internet has become a fast and easy tract to finding a so-called cosmetic dentist, the hard part come when deciphering who is the best in the bunch. Often search optimization and other internet marketing tricks can lead you to a cosmetic dentist who looks great online, only to find out the hard way that he/she not all they claimed to be "cracked up to be." So here are my TOP 3 Questions to help you find a great Cosmetic Dentist:

1. What is your training in Cosmetic Dentistry? Here you want to hear that this dentist had formal post graduate training in cosmetic dentistry including some artistic interest. In fact, many fine cosmetic dentists enjoy painting and sculpture as well. For example, as a pre-dental  undergraduate with a major in biology, I took a minor interest in fine arts, enjoying photography and sculpture. Expanding my interest in this area helped to refine the "aesthetic eye" which cannot be learned but developed from an innate place. 

2. How many years of cosmetic dentistry practice and what percentage of your practice is devoted to Cosmetic Dentistry? This answer should include at least 5-10 years and at least 70% including reconstructive dentistry (the foundation for good cosmetic dentistry). There are many young dentists who have great potential, but you need to find a cosmetic dentist who is primed. While I have had over 29 years of practice in cosmetic dentistry having pioneered the placement of porcelain laminate veneers since 1983, I did not really feel I was able to master my abilities until 5 years of practice.

3. Can I see examples of your cosmetic work and speak with a few of your patients? While most dentists love to show photos of their work (which can often be "photo shopped"), I like patients to be able to see cosmetic dentistry on a live patient, and actually speak and ask questions from willing patients. I have found that many patients are flattered to meet or speak with a prospective patient who may be considering the same treatment or similar cosmetic dental problem. I often find that this really helps a fearful or unsure patient understand the process and experience. 

Finding the Best Cosmetic Dentist

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I'm sure you know if you have done your homework, that every dentist offers cosmetic procedures.  The big difference however is the amount of continuing education and experience the dentist has.  After doing your research of the dentists in your area you are considering working with and settling on one, ask to see:

- actual before-after photos of the dentist's cosmetic work

- testimonials from actual patients, or better yet ask to speak with patients who have had the same dental work done that you are thinking about

Any dentist that can do that will be a leader in their area.  Hard to find but worth the effort. 

For what it's worth, NEVER base your decision on price, speed, insurance, etc.  You get what you pay for, and most will offer interest-free payment plans to make that easier anyway.

Carlo Biasucci, DDS
Ontario Dentist

All general dentists are cosmetic dentists/Overtreatment by cosmetic dentists

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All general dentist do cosmetic dentistry-for example,fixing a chipped or decayed front tooth,etc.  "Cosmetic dentists"-there is no official standard/accreditation for "cosmetic  dentist"-it is a self-proclaimed title- often over treatment plan patients for cosmetic procedures. Dr. Gordon Christiansen, one of the most highly respected voices of dentistry, has written frequently of the overtreatment of patients for cosmetics and the lack of  informed consent about the procedures.

Douglas Decker, DDS
San Diego Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.