Cosmetic dentistry or orthodontics: what is the right treatment for me?

Finding a specialist who is knowledgeable in both cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics, but who is also highly experienced, can be a challenge.

Luckily, one of the UK’s leading orthodontists, Dr Moira Wong, offers comprehensive solutions for patients looking for improved functionality and aesthetics when it comes to their teeth.

Having founded her own clinic, she always ensures that patients are fully aware of the best treatment options for them and whether they should receive treatment from a cosmetic dentist or an orthodontist. We spoke with her to find out the key differences.

What are the key differences between cosmetic dentists and orthodontics?

Orthodontists are responsible for moving the teeth into the correct position and straightening the teeth, correcting the bite and ensuring that the bite is stable and minimising drifting of the teeth. Cosmetic dentists don’t move the teeth but accept them in their current position and they change the appearance of the teeth by taking material or adding material to the teeth or a combination of both.

What is short term orthodontics?

Short term orthodontics is a term that dentists use where they are not correcting the bite, but just correcting the alignment of isolated parts of the mouth. They are often improving the alignment of front teeth but don’t take into account the back teeth. They improve aesthetics a little but do not comprehensively correct the problems in the whole mouth.

How do I decide whether to see a cosmetic dentist or an orthodontist?

If you see an orthodontist who works in a team with a cosmetic dentist, you will get a diagnosis of how much of the problem is related to the teeth being in the wrong position and how much of the problem is due to loss of tooth material where you would benefit from replacing parts of the teeth with compositesveneerscrowns, inlays or any other lab constructed material. I often see adult patients and diagnose both orthodontic and restorative needs, which I can then discuss with my restorative colleagues to formulate the most conservative and beneficial treatment plan for the patient.

This has the advantage of correcting as much of the problem as the orthodontic movement of the teeth which involves no addition of artificial material to your teeth in the long term. This means that the patient will receive the correct amount of cosmetic work, so there is less artificial material in the mouth. Cosmetic dentistry will require more upkeep so it is ideal to minimise the maintenance work in the long term.

Can cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics be combined?

For adults, it is often best combined with cosmetic dentistry. Ideally a consultation with a specialist Orthodontist who works in a team with a good cosmetic dentist and is able to discuss treatments comprehensively and who looks at all options before starting treatment.

What results can I expect when working with a cosmetic dentist or orthodontists? 

Optimal cosmetic and functional results are achieved when both aspects of Orthodontic and Cosmetic considerations are examined and an appropriate treatment plan formulated. The aim at the end of your project should be beautiful teeth that are stable, comfortable and require the least amount of long term maintenance.

Carrying out piecemeal Cosmetic or Orthodontic treatment in only parts of the mouth without considering the functionality of the bite and the whole mouth is a compromise.

Adults often have an incorrect bite which means teeth can experience more wear in one area of the mouth than another. Orthodontic treatment can correct the bite to minimise further wear and a cosmetic dentist can replace the tooth material lost due to the historical wear.

To determine what treatment for your teeth is right for you, it’s best to speak with an expert in orthodontics who is knowledgeable in all areas of dentistry. Click here to visit Dr Moira Wong’s profile today for more information on appointment availability.