A man holding a couple of cosmetic dentistry options

What Is The Difference Between Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry?

A man holding a couple of cosmetic dentistry options
There are quite a few cosmetic dentistry procedures that can be used to fix gaps between your teeth, remove discoloration and staining, or fix crooked or misshapen teeth.

When it comes to dental procedures that fall under the restorative and cosmetic dentistry categories, many patients are unclear on what the difference is between these two lines of dental work. This is because they often overlap one another, as both will enhance your smile and boost your confidence. The key difference here is that restorative dentistry looks to give you a functioning, healthy smile, while cosmetic dentistry aims to enhance the appearance of your teeth. 

How to Determine When You Need Cosmetic or Restorative Dental Work?

The easiest way to determine whether you need cosmetic or restorative dental work is to look at the reason for the procedure (the focus), and the expertise of the dentist.  Are you choosing to get a dental procedure for aesthetic reasons? For instance, bleaching your teeth to remove stains, straightening your teeth with aligners, or getting veneers to change the shape and color of a tooth that is unevenly spaced? If so, then you need cosmetic work done. 

If you are choosing to get a dental procedure like dental crowns, fillings, a root canal, dentures, or implants for fixing a structural problem such as a missing tooth or a cavity, then this falls under restorative work.  While restorative work will help to enhance your smile, the main focus is to fix the functioning capability of your teeth. 

Expertise of the Dentist?

A restorative dentist only has the qualifications and training to provide restorative procedures such as dental crowns, bridges, inlays, fillings, bridges, and implants. A cosmetic dentist can do all the above, but their expertise goes beyond, giving them the capability to fix any aesthetic flaw down to the tiniest of details.

What Are Some Common Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures? 

There are quite a few cosmetic dentistry procedures that can be used to fix gaps between your teeth, remove discoloration and staining, or fix crooked or misshapen teeth.  Some common procedures that are done for aesthetic reasons include the following:

  • Veneers. These are very thin pieces of porcelain or plastic that are placed over teeth to change their shape, color, and overall appearance. This procedure is used to correct very badly discolored teeth, uneven teeth, or crooked and chipped teeth. It is a cheaper alternative to crowns. 
  • Composite Bonding.  If you have gaps between your teeth, have chipped or broken teeth, then composite bonding can be used to fill them in. This type of procedure can be done in one visit and will last for years. 
  • Dental Crowns. These are hollow artificial teeth used to completely cover the top of a tooth that may be chipped, broken, or has too much damage for other procedures like onlay/inlays. A crown will give the tooth a normal appearance. 
  • Teeth Replacement.  If you are missing teeth, getting dental implants done will replace the lost natural tooth with an artificial one. Artificial teeth look and feel like real teeth, have the same biting force, and ensure you have a full smile. 
  • Teeth Straightening.  This involves using traditional metal braces, or modern clear aligners to ease your teeth into a straight position.  Straightening is used to address widely crooked teeth that cause self-consciousness. 
  • Teeth Contouring.  Contouring is a procedure that reshapes your teeth to make them more aesthetically pleasing. It works by altering your teeth’s shape, width, length, and position in the mouth. It may be used to correct crooked teeth, overlaps, undesired angles, or teeth of different lengths. 

What to Look for in a Cosmetic Dentist? 

You will want to look for proof of education to make sure that they are up-to-date on all aesthetic and clinical cosmetic dentistry techniques. Second, make sure to ask for references and testimonials to see the quality of work that they provide. Finally, ask for some before and after photographs, so that you can see what the final results were for others under their care. 

Is a Cosmetic Dentistry Procedure Right For Me? 

If you find yourself unhappy with your smile or hesitating to smile in public, then cosmetic dentistry may definitely be right for you. Not only will a cosmetic procedure help you gain a healthy, bright smile, it will also give you lasting confidence.  

If you are worried about a structural problem with your smile, then seek out a consultation for a restorative procedure. This is critical as you don’t want to develop oral health problems as a result of missing teeth, tooth decay, or damaged teeth. 

If you’d like to come for a dental visit and/or have any questions, feel free to get in touch today.

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