With Cosmetic Dentistry – Consumers Should Choose Wisely

Reality makeover shows continue to explode in popularity with visions of perfect, pearly-white teeth filling the airwaves. Now more than ever, Americans are seeking a perfect smile to boost their self-esteem.

A recent survey by the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) revealed that a great majority would like to change something about their smile and/or teeth. In fact, 80 percent of men and women said they would whiten their teeth, more than one third would like their teeth to be straighter, and nearly 17 percent said they would change the shape of their teeth.

"Reality makeover shows are great because they have increased public awareness about esthetic procedures for their teeth," said Dr. Guillermo Torres, a prosthodontist practicing in the Tarrytown area and a member of the ACP. "However, I caution people considering this type of care to choose their dentist carefully."

Americans seeking cosmetic or reconstructive dental work should do research before making a decision in order to ensure proper care. "Cosmetic" dentists have varying levels of experience and education. In fact, some dentists may begin performing a cosmetic procedure after completing only a weekend course.

In contrast, prosthodontists are dental specialists who are recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). They have completed an additional three years of rigorous education and training beyond dental school, focusing on facial esthetics. The advanced specialty training that prosthodontists receive makes them experts in improving appearances. Prosthodontists are qualified to perform procedures ranging from subtle cosmetic improvements to whole mouth and jaw rehabilitation.

To find the best professional care when deciding on a cosmetic procedure, the ACP recommends the following:

• Ask your family doctor or general dentist for a recommendation.

• Don’t be afraid to ask for personal references from the dentist you choose.

• Use an Internet search engine to find a prosthodontist near you, such as www.findaprosthodontist.org, the ACP’s member directory.

• Ask your dentist about his or her education and experience.

The American College of prosthodontists is the national professional association representing one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Prosthodontists are specialists in implant, esthetic and reconstructive dentistry. The ACP is dedicated to improving patients’ quality of life through the advancement of prosthodontics. Patients and consumers can learn more by visiting www.prosthodontics.org.

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