Cosmetic dentistry is the art of making the dentition look good. On the simple side, bleaching teeth will make most smiles brighter. More involved treatments may include the combination of Periodontics (deep cleaning of teeth), Orthodontics (realigning the teeth to bring all teeth into an even arch, and widen the smile to show more teeth), Endodontics (treatment of dead teeth to remove discolouration), and Prosthodontics (veneering, crowning, or replacing teeth to give an intact arch), which is the true cosmetic treatment to improve a smile. Being able to carry out all these procedures allows the “Cosmetic Dentist” to provide the entire treatment in one location with no need to refer. On occasion, the treatment may be so complex for the individual dentist, that they do refer you to the particular specialist in a particular field to deal with that treatment. The dentist usually guides the treatment, but needs to work with the specialist to solve individual problems such as a difficult root canal treatment, or a periodontically compromised tooth.
As seen on Cosmetic Makeover shows, teeth can sometimes be crowned, or veneered to correct realignments. This is a fast way of completing treatment, but the result is never as good as correct orthodontic realignment to move roots into the correct position prior to any restorative work. Doing this minimises the restorative work needed, and minimises tooth compromise. A good example of this is a particular couch jumping actor from Mission impossible who started his early career with the two front teeth crossed. The actor had these teeth crowned to straighten them. Because of the compromised position, the teeth looked too narrow compared to the other teeth. The actor then had orthodontics to correct the tooth position, then needed the teeth recrowned to recorrect to the new position. If the actor had had the orthodontics done first, he may not have needed the crowns after all.