Updated on February 1, 2024
4 min read

Cosmetic Dentistry: Types of Procedures, Benefits & Insurance

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What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry, or esthetic dentistry, focuses on improving the appearance of your smile. Cosmetic dentistry can improve your smile by:

  • Lightening or whitening teeth
  • Reshaping teeth
  • Straightening teeth
  • Repairing damaged teeth
  • Replacing missing teeth

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Types of Cosmetic Procedures

Esthetic dental treatments are commonly referred to as “smile makeovers.” In particular, there are a few cosmetic procedures to choose from based on individual needs:

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is an effective procedure to remove stains and improve the natural color of teeth. 

Whitening treatments include: 

  • Over-the-counter treatments
  • In-office whitening treatments
  • Intensive treatment using custom impressions

According to some experts, “Kör Whitening” is the most effective in-office treatment. In short, it is a multi-step whitening treatment that requires a minimum of two weeks to see results.


Veneers provide excellent esthetic results, so many people prefer them over teeth whitening products and orthodontic treatment. 

Veneers are used to improve the appearance of: 

  • Chipped teeth 
  • Discolored teeth 
  • Misshapen or crooked teeth

There are also a few different types of veneers to choose from. Porcelain veneers are bonded to the teeth using special cement. They require recontouring of the natural teeth. Prepless veneers do not require recontouring before placement.

Braces and Clear Aligners

Braces and clear aligners are orthodontic treatments, but they are also considered cosmetic. This is because most people who invest in braces or clear aligners, such as Invisalign, do so to improve their appearance. In some cases, braces or clear aligners may be medically necessary.

Both devices put pressure on your teeth, which moves them into the correct positions over time. Children and teens often get traditional metal braces, while adults typically get clear braces or aligners because they are less noticeable.

Gum Contouring

Gum contouring is a cosmetic procedure that changes the shape of your gums. During this procedure, a dentist may remove any excessive gum tissue causing a “gummy” smile or a high amount of gum display when smiling. 

Who Benefits From Cosmetic Procedures?

The most common age groups undergoing cosmetic dental procedures are those between 31 to 40 years old (38 percent) and 41 to 50 (32 percent). Ninety-six percent of esthetic dentistry patients are also female.

The people who benefit the most from cosmetic dentistry are those who have:

  • Stained teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Spaces in between the teeth
  • Misaligned teeth

Why Do People Get Cosmetic Dentistry?

According to experts, there are many reasons why an individual is unhappy with their smile. The most common reasons include: 

Dental veneers are the most requested treatment because they can correct all the cosmetic issues listed above. Aside from improving self-confidence, cosmetic dentistry is also relatively non-invasive.

How to Choose a Cosmetic Dentist

It’s important to look for qualified dentists in the specific area of treatment you are seeking. Some dentists invest more time and money into continuing education in cosmetic dentistry.

This makes them better equipped than someone who hasn’t made the same investment. So, finding a dentist that focuses on cosmetic procedures ensures you will receive the highest quality of treatment.

You should also take a look at the dentist’s background. Some factors to look out for are the dentist’s experience and accreditation from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Cosmetic Dentistry vs. Restorative Dentistry

Although cosmetic and restorative dentists have a lot in common, they serve different purposes. The main goal of cosmetic dentistry is to improve the appearance of teeth. Restorative dentistry focuses on restoring their functionality.

Restorative dental treatments include:

Does Insurance Cover Cosmetic Dentistry?

Most cosmetic treatments aren’t covered by insurance because they are often elective. However, if the procedures are medically necessary, insurance companies may partially cover them.

  • Teeth whitening — Not covered by insurance
  • Veneers — Not covered by insurance
  • Braces — May be partially covered by insurance, depending on age and insurance plan
  • Clear aligners — May be partially covered by insurance, depending on age and insurance plan
  • Gum contouring — May be partially covered by insurance if the procedure is needed for oral health reasons


Cosmetic dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on the appearance and esthetics of your teeth. Common services include teeth whitening, veneers, braces, clear aligners, and gum contouring. 

Cosmetic dentistry is offered to people who are unhappy with the appearance of their smiles. These procedures are often used to improve one’s appearance, confidence, and oral health. Because of this, most treatments aren’t covered by insurance unless deemed medically necessary. 

If you have dental health problems, like a cavity, your dentist will recommend a restorative dental procedure instead. These are usually partially covered by most dental insurance plans. Talk to a dental professional about your options.

Last updated on February 1, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 1, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
  3. Kohli, Kent D. Smile Beautifully!: The Ultimate Consumer’s Guide to Cosmetic Dentistry. 2016.
  4. Cosmetic Dentistry.” Dental Economics.
  5. What is Cosmetic Dentistry?” American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD)
  6. Blatz et al. “Evolution of Aesthetic Dentistry.” Journal of Dental Research Vol, 2019.
  7. Doughty et al. “The dental public health implications of cosmetic dentistry: a scoping review of the literature.” Community Dental Health, 2016.
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