The Difference Between Restorative Dentistry and Cosmetic Dentistry

You may hear some terms tossed around when you visit your family dentist. Some may apply to you and further treatment, so it’s important to understand the vocabulary dentists use and different types of dentistry. Two distinct types are restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Here are the main differences, even though there are also quite a few similarities.


Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry has the focus of making the teeth and your smile more attractive. Some of the primary treatments performed in cosmetic dentistry are:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Porcelain crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Teeth straightening
  • Tooth-colored fillings
  • Aligners
  • Contouring
  • Bonding

Many cosmetic dentists do some restorative dentistry while they are working but also take the extra time and effort for the additional cosmetic component. Other times there is no restorative work involved at all, and the goal is purely cosmetic. An example of this could be veneers, where the patient simply wants them for cosmetic reasons (to look better), even though there is no functional reason for them.

When people are self-conscious about a part of their smile, they may seek a cosmetic dentist. Whitening, veneers, contouring and bonding are probably the most common types of cosmetic dentistry. These all involve the shape and color of teeth, but not really function. However, there are often emotional benefits of cosmetic dentistry that are important to note. An improved smile can make a person feel happier, more confident, and less self-conscious in social situations.


Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry involves procedures that keep your mouth healthy and functioning well. Most general and family dentists have some involvement with restorative dentistry, like fillings and crowns. Some restorative dentistry requires more specializations, like with dental implants or root canals. Some of the most common types of restorative dentistry are:

  • Fillings
  • Root Canals
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Implants

However, just like with a cosmetic dentist, there may be some overlap. For instance, if you need a dental implant, the restorative work should be finished with a tooth that looks matches your natural teeth including shape and color, and this could be considered cosmetic dentistry.

One major difference is that often times cosmetic dentistry is elective, like tooth whitening, veneers or teeth straightening. You can have a perfectly healthy and functioning mouth but would like some aesthetic improvements, and that’s when you seek a cosmetic dentist.

On the other hand, often your dentist will determine if you need a crown or implant. This is purely restorative. The end result will probably have some cosmetic components, but you would not elect to do this on your own.

Many dentists work with both forms of dentistry. Cosmetic and restorative often go hand in hand. If you are wondering about either type or what a procedure in your future entails, talk to your family dentist. They should be happy to answer any questions.

You can also contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. Our expert staff can help you with whatever your dentistry needs are, and we are happy to answer any questions to help you figure out your next dental steps.