"Cosmetic" Dentist or Cosmetic "Dentist"

What does this so heavily coined term really mean?

Every dentist considers himself also a Cosmetic Dentist. This is very interesting.

What is the difference between a dentist and a "cosmetic" dentist. Is he more cosmetic in appearance or is his work more cosmetic? Hmmh. Oh, yes, many dental offices look very cosmetic. So, may be this is what it means: a dentist who has a cosmetic dental office. Imagine the term "cosmetic architect," "cosmetic artist," or "cosmetic plastic surgeon." Well, shouldn’t we all, no matter what profession, strive for an aesthetic result for our work? It is not a new concept. Greek culture was aware of it thousands of years ago. So, what is the deal?

What would you expect from a "cosmetic" dentist? As long as dentistry exists, dentists have tried to give their patients something that looks presentable, natural, may be even attractive. While George Washington received a denture made of Ivory, we now have dental materials that don't just look more like human tooth structure, they are also more compatible with the human body and remain in our mouths for an entire lifetime, protecting our teeth. Should a dentist call himself now a "cosmetic" dentist who practices "cosmetic" dentistry just because he can use the materials that have been developed in recent years. Should not an architect use the best materials available and combine them with aesthetic elements without calling himself a "cosmetic" architect.

It is amazing how the term "cosmetic" has found acceptance among people who look for a dentist whose title promises them something they really like.

"Cosmetic" means

Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.
Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity: cosmetic surgery.
Decorative rather than functional: cosmetic fenders on cars.
Lacking depth or significance; superficial: made a few cosmetic changes when she took over the company.

(French cosmétique, from Greek kosmtikos, skilled in arranging, from kosmtos, well-ordered, from kosmein, to arrange, from kosmos, order.)

Okay, may be we are getting somewhere: kosmtikos (greek) means "skilled in arranging." Okay, using this derivation, we could say that a cosmetic dentist is a dentist who is skilled in arranging. Well, he better be, right? And again, no matter which profession we think about, a skill in arranging things should be desirable. It would come in handy for the car mechanic, the hair dresser, and interior designer.

The virtue of being cosmetic is desirable to all of us. It is a higher echelon of civilization. It is highly appreciated and makes our lives more livable. Nobody wants to be surrounded by baron landscapes and monotone coloring, if any. Beauty is experienced as a gift, but this would be a different story...

Back to the cosmetic dentist. What does this compound word tell us? Does it instill hope in our desire to have found someone who understands our cosmetic or aesthetic needs, someone who understands our motivations to just look better? This is probably part of it. If we asked a dentist why he called himself cosmetic, he would likely reply that he uses materials that make you look better, and that, one way or the other, he is just a better – if not the best – dentist.

So, the bottom line is that – while it is everyone’s prerogative to call himself a "cosmetic" so-and-so – it should not make a difference. It is one of those adjectives that are used to make a person sound more distinguished, such as the words "first," "best," and "excellent."

It boils down to the problem of having to find a professional who matches our desires. It is about communication, may be even chemistry, and a mutual understanding about what is needed and wanted, blended with the framework of realistic expectations and the skill and desire of the professional to deliver exactly what we want. "Cosmetic" is in the eye of the beholder and should be just that if all desires have been considered and fulfilled, right?