Choosing a Cosmetic Dentist

By Dr. Lance Timmerman

A beautiful smile means different things to different people. To some, it means health, to others, it means confidence, and yet to others, it means being more attractive. Whatever it means, a smile can be very valuable.

But where do you go? Is every dentist capable of giving you what you want? Do you KNOW what you want? With so many choices out there, it can be very confusing so when choosing a cosmetic dentist follow a few simple guidelines.


Cosmetic dentistry is not taught in dental school and is not a specialty, so going to any random dentist may not achieve your goal. Since cosmetic dentistry is not a specialty, every dentist CAN say that they do cosmetics. To some dentists, simply offering tooth colored fillings is cosmetic, so they aren’t wrong, but to patients this is misleading.

Consider asking where they got their advanced training. Highly skilled and trained cosmetic dentists often repeatedly take continuing education courses to advance their skills, including courses at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), the Kois Center for Dental Excellence, the Nash Institute and others. If they HAVE taken courses, ask how many, as some take a single course and not much more. Be sure your chosen dentist is as trained as possible.


Training is only the first step. Ask how long they have practiced and how many cases like yours have been done. Seasoned cosmetic dentists document their cases, whether for presentations to prospective patients or to other dentists, so ask for photographs. Be sure the photos you see are of THEIR work, as dentists CAN purchase stock photo books of procedures, yet have no experience at all with the desired procedure.



Some dentists have a “prep and pray” approach to dental care. They prepare the teeth and pray the lab gives a good result. For SOME people, this is enough (anything is better than what they have now), but for most a more predictable approach is needed. An experienced and skilled cosmetic dentist will use all the talents of their lab and have study models and a diagnostic wax up created before treatment begins. This information ensures that YOUR desired result is communicated to the lab.


Advances in technology helps in nearly every aspect of life. GPS has made driving easier, bar codes at the store make shopping more efficient, etc. Dentistry is no different. If your chosen dentist is not using the latest technologies, how good is their care? Will the procedure take longer than necessary? Will it be comfortable? Will it be accurate? Does it matter to you?

Good dentistry can be done using old techiques, but modern materials and techniques make for a better patient experience and more predictable results.

Patient Input

Since this is YOUR mouth and YOUR goals, communication with your chosen dentist is important. You should be provided with every opportunity to share what you want in tooth color, size, shape and overall design. An experienced cosmetic dentist should have all the necessary materials to help you communicate what you want or guide you in sharing what you want.

None of what is shared here is a requirement when choosing a cosmetic dentist. Some dentists do things their own way and get fine results. But as a consumer, how do you know? Referrals from friends can help, but do they simply like the office decorations and the staff or do they really know if their suggestion is capable of giving you the smile you desire?

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Dr. Timmerman |

7100 Fort Dent Way, Suite 270 – Tukwila, Washington 98188
Phone: 888-498-3763