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    Why cosmetic dentistry matters to every practice

    From ensuring precise composite color matching to offering in-office teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry can take your practice to the next level.


    Keeping up with the times

    Times are changing, especially for the dental field. New materials and techniques are introduced so regularly that it is incumbent on doctors to keep up with innovations. Further, many doctors may find that what they were prepared for in dental school is not sufficient to meet their patients’ esthetic demands.

    “Dentistry, in the past — even 30 years ago when I was in dental school — was basically about function,” Dr. DeSanto says. “It was always about function. The focus was never on cosmetic dentistry but more on form and function. Today we need both, equally, for a successful case completion. Dentistry has evolved as a profession. It’s an art and science, combined. It’s not the same field that it used to be. When I was in school, it was silver fillings, gold onlays — I haven’t done those procedures in 25 years.”

    Dr. Rowe credits the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry for giving him the knowledge he needed to offer the best cosmetic services.

    “I tell people, ‘In dental school, I learned not to be dangerous,’” he laughs. “I learned to be a sound, competent practitioner, but cosmetic expertise, excellence, I gained a lot of that knowledge through postgraduate study and the AACD’s credentialing program. As a learning experience, accreditation has been a huge asset to me by sharpening both my eye and my skills to be able to offer exceptional, high quality esthetic dentistry. AACD accreditation teaches toward the concept of responsible esthetics. That functional dentistry not only looks good but is well-planned to provide for a lifetime of service. Oftentimes, dentistry is expensive, but it should be an investment that people believe in when it’s executed properly.”

    Read more: Creating pearly white smiles

    Continuing education

    While dental school may not have been sufficient to teach cosmetic dentistry, there is a professional resource that doctors can turn to.

    “So, where do you learn all this?” Dr. DeSanto asks. “I learned none of this in dental school. Basically, everything I learned was from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, years ago. I dove into their courses and I learned more in those courses year after year than I ever learned in dental school. I just kept seeking it out and I never miss the Scientific Session every year. I read the journals and just really dive in.”

    “The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry is bar none,” Dr. Bakeman adds. “They have a really high-energy meeting, they have many of the top clinicians — national and international — so you’re exposed to a lot of different educators. The Annual Session of the AACD has dozens of hands-on workshops presenting an opportunity to try lots of different materials and techniques, and as dentists we are very hands-on. We like to get in there and try it. And if you find an educator with whom you connect and you want to learn more from this person, many educators have more in-depth courses you can pursue. The AACD Annual Session provides a broad-spectrum exposure to the world of cosmetic dentistry.”

    In addition to education, the AACD offers an accreditation program that allows doctors to demonstrate their training and skill. Accreditation requires training, testing and the evaluation of five different case types.

    “These case types involve five different kinds of cosmetic dentistry that any dentist stating proficiency in cosmetic dentistry should be able to perform to the accreditation standard,” Dr. Bakeman explains. “It’s one thing to go to a course and listen to the person and say, ‘Okay, yeah, great, I learned a pearl or two and I’m going to go back and use it in my practice.’ But it’s another thing when you know you have to actually document your work and pass the test. There’s something about the need to deliver that makes the focus on the learning and implementation more focused, intense and effective. People who go through that accreditation process say, ‘It was a lot of work, but I became a better dentist.’

    Related article: Outside the box cosmetics for outside the guide results

    “You may be good in one area, like porcelain veneers, but you may not have been as proficient with direct composites,” she continues. “You may have been good with direct composites, but you may not have been able to replace a missing tooth in the front of the mouth, manage the tissue architecture and produce a result that blends seamlessly with the adjacent dentition. The accreditation process forces an individual to excel in all areas of cosmetic dentistry.”

    For those who want to start small and improve the cosmetics services that they offer, Dr. Watts says that the education can be freely and easily acquired.

    “Dental students care more about how composites and fillings look more so than older dentists because they’re coming out of school and they want to prove themselves,” Dr. Watts observes. “But cosmetics start to matter most with the smaller differences, not the bigger changes. Everything is about smaller differences that achieve an overall, more pleasant result, and it takes time to learn those differences. They just have to go out there and find the proper courses. Most of them are free online. You can find all CE free online today or YouTube videos that will help you.”

    Up next: Adding cosmetic dentistry to your practice

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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