If you’re searching for a new dentist in the Las Vegas area, you’ve likely looked at dozens of websites, read reviews until your eyes went blurry, looked at countless before and after photos, and still couldn’t choose. One question that probably popped up during your search however is “what is the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist?” Aren’t they the same thing? Not exactly. Let us help you choose the right dentist for your needs by explaining the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a general dentist.

What’s a General Dentist?

woman with animated question marks over her headA dentist who graduates from dental school without any specialized training in areas outside of preventive dentistry and routine dental care. General dentists offer the skills and expertise a patient needs to both prevent dental problems from occurring as well as treat problems such as cavities or gum disease. Additionally, general dentists typically complete continuing education related to new techniques for better oral health.

General dentists are skilled at:

  • Dental exams and cleanings
  • Root canals
  • Fillings
  • Dentures
  • Dental crowns
  • Dental bridges
  • Gum disease treatment

If you’re searching for a dentist who helps you maintain good oral health, a general dentist is a good option. 

What’s a Cosmetic Dentist?

Like general dentists, cosmetic dentists attended dental school and have extensive knowledge about preventive dentistry and routine dental care. The main difference is that cosmetic dentists have completed extensive courses and training related to enhancing the appearance of smiles. The extra training and education help cosmetic dentists perfect their skills to combine art and dentistry into one. It’s with their additional training that they learn how to craft porcelain veneers and dental crowns that enhance your appearance. They may also have training in orthodontics like Invisalign.

If you were to visit a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist for a dental crown, the main difference is that the general dentist will look to restore your tooth while a cosmetic dentist will look to restore your tooth while making the crown also enhance your smile.

If you’re concerned about the appearance of your smile in addition to your oral health, choosing a cosmetic dentist in Las Vegas might be a better option for you.

Which One is Right For Me?

Choosing the right dentist for you isn’t an easy task. Take a look at what really separates general dentists from cosmetic dentists to determine which one is right for you.


A general dentist and cosmetic dentist might have the same amount of years working as a dentist under their belt, but the dentist who has the most experience performing the procedure you need will be your best bet. For instance, you can expect better results getting dental crowns from a cosmetic dentist who places them several times a day than a general dentist who places them a few times per week. As a rule of thumb, practice makes perfect!


Although practice makes perfect, training is also important to consider. Cosmetic dentists have extensive training on different procedures which helps them perfect their technique and provide more reliable results. A cosmetic dentist might know a better technique for applying dental bonding than a general dentist. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your teeth, you will want to see a cosmetic dentist who has that extra training and attention to detail under their belt.

Cost and Quality

The last factor to consider when choosing between a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist is the cost and quality of treatments. You would think that a dentist with more training and experience might cost more, but general and cosmetic dentists charge similar fees. What you really need to consider is the quality of your treatment. Although fees are similar, wouldn’t you rather opt for a procedure that delivers high-quality results than one that delivered okay results?

Why You Need a Las Vegas Cosmetic Dentist

You’ve probably come to the conclusion now that you’re better off choosing a cosmetic dentist than a general dentist for the sake of your smile’s appearance. Fortunately, Dr. Polley is the perfect dentist for the job. At James B. Polley, D.D.S., we offer a wide range of dental treatments. We can help you with everything from general and preventive dentistry to cosmetic dentistry, reconstructive dentistry, and sleep apnea treatment.

Dr. Polley is passionate about creating healthy, beautiful lasting smiles. After graduating cum laude from Creighton University School of Dentistry, he’s dedicated his spare time to continuing education. He’s studied at the world-renowned Kois Center where he learned the most recent advancements in dental implants, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. He also belongs to the American Dental Association, Nevada Dental Society, Southern Nevada Dental Society, Southern Nevada Peer Review, and the Kois Center Mentor Study Club. He’s also a fellow member of the International Conference of Implantologists.

If you’re searching for a highly-qualified cosmetic dentist in Las Vegas with decades of experience, countless continual education, look no further than Dr. Polley. 

Contact our dental office today to book an appointment with our cosmetic dentist. Please call (702) 873-0324 to get started.