What does it mean to be a cosmetic dentist in 2015?

Any general dentist can add the word "cosmetic" to their shingle, right next to the words "family" or "implant." Adding a word to a shingle means we are looking to establish ourselves as focusing on that branch of dentistry. Of course, I use the words "focus" and "branch" to avoid saying "specialty."

Any general dentist can add the word "cosmetic" to their shingle, right next to the words "family" or "implant." Adding a word to a shingle means we are looking to establish ourselves as focusing on that branch of dentistry. Of course, I use the words "focus" and "branch" to avoid saying "specialty." Cosmetic dentistry is not one of the nine officially-recognized specialties, and perhaps that's a good thing. Could dentists support themselves doing only anterior bondings, veneers, and crowns? Would all-ceramic posterior crowns be included as part of the specialty? How would this be different from prosthodontics? But I digress . . .

I've heard some dentists lament that the heyday of cosmetic dentistry is over. In-office whitening has lost market share to the inferior mall/salon/spa whitening. The fumbling economy has made patients think twice about smile makeovers. Honestly, how many veneer cases did you do last year?

I would argue that these concerns are more of a state of mind than a hard reality. As we've discussed several times in the past few months, we are experiencing a decrease in the use of dental services by adults that is almost 15 years long. Cosmetic dentistry is a victim of that disturbing trend. But we have also shared the stories of dentists who have adapted their practices to the changing environment. It takes us becoming active business owners who think strategically. We have heard from dentists who have breathed new life into their practices by targeting implant dentistry, sleep apnea, and pediatrics, to name a few.

Cosmetic dentistry is no different. The trick is to not just wait for patients to show up at our doors requesting 12 veneers. We need to earn the proper credentials to distinguish ourselves and then communicate our brand. This month, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry's vice-president, Dr. Chiann Gibson, gives us a detailed account about how she has grown her presence as a cosmetic dentist in her community.

Dr. Adamo Notarantonio, also an AACD-accredited member, shows us that cosmetic dentistry isn't a secret closely guarded by ancient masters. Efficiency and a high level of skill are not mutually exclusive principles when using particular materials and techniques. And if you're still in the doldrums about how your practice is performing, the great Dr. Peter Dawson reveals why the future of dentistry is bright if you are ready to adopt a certain perspective.

So keep "cosmetic dentistry" on your shingle; it looks good there. But pledge to prove it to your community using the clinical and marketing tips found in this issue.

Chris Salierno, DDS

CSalierno@PennWell.com

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