While the human body is wonderful at healing itself, teeth are one of the few body parts that simply don’t heal. They can incur damage over time as the result of neglect, trauma, or wear and tear. Things happen, and sometimes a tooth or teeth need to be repaired or replaced.

That’s where restoration dentistry comes in. Also called restorative dentistry or dental restoration, this is the art and science of restoring the function and appearance of natural teeth after damage of some sort has occurred. There are broadly two kinds of restorations–direct and indirect. A direct restoration involves placing a soft, moldable material into the damaged portion of the tooth, shaping it to match the natural tooth, and then allowing it to harden and thus restoring the form and function of the tooth or teeth. These are generally easy restorations and many can be completed on one visit to the dentist. Indirect restorations are often a bit more complex, requiring that a dental technician create a crown, veneer, or inlay/onlay to replace or cover the damaged section of the tooth. This can require a few dentist visits as the replacement component must be made and then fitted onto the tooth or teeth.

If teeth are missing or need to be removed, the dentist may suggest a dental prosthesis like a bridge, dentures, or dental implants. These are designed to replace natural teeth with artificial ones that mimic the form and function of the originals as carefully as possible.

Restorations can serve a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are cosmetic, restoring or enhancing the patient’s smile by correcting misshapen, ill-spaced, or discolored teeth. Sometimes they are intended to repair damage or decay. The goal is always to improve patient health and confidence and give them a better quality of life.