What is the Difference Between Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry

restorative dentistry vs cosmetic dentistry

Restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry are often used interchangeably, however, they are distinct disciplines within the overall science of dentistry. They do share a number of techniques and fundamental goals, chief among which is ensuring that the patient has the highest quality of life possible. Our teeth and smiles are meant to last a lifetime, and when damage occurs both restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry may be options for repairing it. Let’s take a look at what they do and how they relate to each other so that we can learn a little bit more.

What is Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry refers to the body of techniques and approaches that your dentist may employ in order to keep your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy and functional. The procedures range in complexity from a basic filling to various forms of dental prosthetics and implants. The primary goal of restorative dentistry is to maintain or enhance the overall function of the mouth for regular activities such as eating, speaking, and breathing. Restorative dentists are primarily concerned with function and keep their focus on repairing damage and preventing further damage or decay. General dentists offer and perform restorative procedures as this falls within the purview of general dentistry.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry

So after the damage has been repaired and the decay has been addressed, what happens next? Restorative dentistry’s focus on function means that it places far less importance on the aesthetics of dentistry. While dentists do their best to make sure the procedures performed as part of restorative dentistry look good, that’s not their focus or their skill set. This is where cosmetic dentists come in. Cosmetic dentistry goes a step past general dentistry or restorative dentistry in the focus is ensuring that the repairs in place also look good and that the patient’s smile and appearance are the best that they can be.

Like restorative dentists, cosmetic dentists make use of a wide variety of procedures and techniques to achieve their aesthetic ends. A simple tooth whitening can be considered a cosmetic dental procedure. From there cosmetic dentistry may include the use of prosthetics or implants to restore a patient’s smile. It may involve the use of veneers or inlays/onlays to correct misshapen, misspaced, or damaged teeth. It may go so far as to include surgical reconstruction of parts of the patient’s teeth or jaw. Different cosmetic dentists have different specialties and different skill sets, and that patient may get referred to a specialist in the procedure they want to be performed.

So Which is Right for You?

So which one is right for you? That depends as always on your situation and your personal goals for your dental health. A great place to start is a conversation with your general dentist, who can give you an informed opinion as to your options and direct you to the right resources for you. The end goal of both restorative and cosmetic dentistry are the same: enhancing a patient’s quality of life, health, and confidence by addressing their oral health issues.