In a recent dental survey conducted by the Wealthy Dentist, 89% of dentists felt that cosmetic dentistry should not be board-certified. The report also found that 11% thought that cosmetic dentistry should be recognized as its own specialty.

The most significant factor in predicting a dentist’s vote was location. Urban dentists were far more likely than their rural colleagues to support board certification for cosmetic dentistry. This may suggest that dentists in more urban areas are somewhat more likely to specialize exclusively in cosmetic dentistry. Although rural dentists want to be able to perform cosmetic procedures on their patients, their patients still need their general dentistry services as well.

Survey comments suggest that dentists don’t want to lose their ability to perform cosmetic procedures and they are not eager to jump through any administrative hoops in order to get board certification.

“Every dentist thinks about cosmetics when delivering any restoration to a patient,” said a dentist who practices in Alaska. “The ADA needs to open up more areas for specialty consideration, but cosmetic dentistry is not one of them.”

Some dentists were offended at the idea of cosmetic dentistry as a specialty.

“The entire field is subjective, mostly based on market-driven forces and not evidence-based criteria. Making it a specialty is an insult to those of us who endeavor for excellence in our daily activities,” said a prosthodontist in  New York.

A number of doctors questioned how board certification would be implemented. What will ensure standards for care? Where will this be done, at the undergraduate or graduate level?

“One way or another, cosmetic dentistry will continue to play an increasing role in modern dental care,” said Jim Du Molin founder of the Wealthy Dentist.  “Who exactly will ‘own’ cosmetic dental care is a contentious issue. These survey results clearly show that few dentists want to get out of the cosmetic dentist business!”

For additional information, visit www.thewealthydentist.com/survey.

[The Wealthy Dentist, April 11, 2007]