October 14, 2023
Cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry describe two different categories of dental procedures that can be used to improve the appearance and functionality of teeth. The main difference between cosmetic and restorative dentistry is that cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of teeth and gums whereas restorative dentistry aims to repair or replace damaged or missing teeth.
A Closer Look at Restorative Dentistry
“Restorative dentistry” describes dental treatments that help to restore the functionality of a person's teeth or that prevent further damage or decay. The main objective of this type of dental procedure is to rehabilitate the functional properties of teeth as well as manage or prevent certain oral diseases.
Considering that in the United States tooth decay affects 90% of adults aged 20 to 64 years and gum disease affects nearly 50% of adults aged 45 to 64 years, restorative dentistry plays a crucial role in preserving oral health throughout the nation. At the same time, restorative treatments often help to improve patients’ smiles indirectly, especially if they have missing teeth.
What Are the Most Common Restorative Dental Procedures?
1. Dental Fillings: Dental fillings are one of the most common types of restorative dental procedures. This procedure involves removing decayed or damaged tooth material and filling the cavity with a material such as composite resin, gold, metal amalgams, or porcelain. Dental fillings can usually be performed in just one appointment.
2. Dental Crowns: A dental crown procedure involves removing damage or decay from an existing tooth and placing a protective cap over it. Crowns can be made from different materials, including porcelain, metal, or a combination of both.
3. Dental Implants: Dental implants are replacement teeth that are surgically placed in the jawbone. They are a popular dental option for people who have lost one or more teeth due to extensive tooth decay, advanced periodontal disease, or a traumatic injury.
4. Root Canals: A root canal procedure involves cleaning the infected pulp out of a tooth down to the bottom of the tooth roots. After the infected pulp is removed, the space is filled and sealed. Sometimes, the tooth is also covered with a crown to help protect and strengthen the tooth.
5. Dentures: Dentures are removable prosthetic devices that are used to replace missing teeth. They can be made to replace a few teeth or a full set of teeth.
6. Dental Bridges: Dental bridges are fixed prosthetic devices that are permanently anchored onto existing teeth.
A Closer Look at Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry is primarily focused on enhancing the appearance of a person’s teeth. Conveniently, some clinics like Salin Dentistry in Bakersfield, CA, offer services that are both restorative and cosmetic.
And while many cosmetic dentistry procedures are usually done for aesthetic purposes and do not directly improve your dental health, most dentists will agree that cosmetic dentistry procedures—in addition to improving the appearance of a person’s teeth—often motivate people to take better care of their oral health in the future.
What Are the Most Common Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures?
1. Teeth Whitening: Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dentistry procedure that involves removing stains and discoloration from the teeth to improve their appearance. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to brighten and enhance a smile.
2. Dental Veneers: Dental veneers are custom-made shells that are placed over the front surface of the teeth. Dental veneers not only help with covering chips, cracks, and stains, but can also close unsightly gaps which can greatly improve a person’s smile. Additionally, dental veneers are durable and known for their longevity. With proper dental hygiene, veneers typically last up to ten years and can sometimes last as long as 20 years if they are placed by an experienced cosmetic dentist and cared for meticulously by the patient.
3. Invisalign: Invisalign is a popular choice for people who want to improve the appearance of their smile without using traditional metal braces. The Invisalign system uses a graduated series of clear aligners to straighten the teeth over a period of six months to a year or more. These orthodontic devices are typically worn for 22 hours a day and are removed when eating, brushing, and flossing.
4. Gum Contouring: Gum contouring involves reshaping and resculpting the gum line to improve the appearance of the teeth. While it is considered a purely cosmetic procedure, in some cases, gum contouring may help to fight periodontal disease.
The Main Benefits of Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry
Both restorative and cosmetic dentistry can improve the function and aesthetics of damaged or missing teeth. However, restorative dentistry’s primary goal is to improve the functionality of a person’s teeth and make everyday actions such as chewing, drinking, and speaking more comfortable. On the other hand, cosmetic dentistry focuses primarily on improving the “look” of a person’s teeth, which can be important for people who have public speaking roles or whose smile aesthetics affect their relationships, confidence, or self-esteem.
Some of the top benefits of cosmetic dentistry include:
● Improves the shape, color, and appearance of teeth or gums.
● Helps to build confidence and self-esteem. Recent research shows that there is a strong association between dental aesthetics and psychological well-being.
● Encourages better oral hygiene, due to an increased motivation to maintain the new smile and the greater ease of caring for straighter teeth (if Invisalign was used).
Some of the top benefits of restorative dentistry include:
● Helps to restore oral health and the functionality of teeth by aligning a person’s bite.
● Improves chewing, biting, drinking, and speaking.
● Greatly reduces jaw discomfort and helps to preserve bone density and structure.
Both Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry Can Enhance Your Smile and Improve Your Oral Health
Whether your goals are primarily aesthetic or primarily functional, cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments can improve your oral health as well as the appearance of your smile. And in both cases, the experience of the dentist and your care in following pre- and post-treatment instructions have a lot to bear on the longevity of the result.
When you’re considering any kind of dentistry procedure, consulting with a reputable dental professional is the first step in achieving your dental goals. After talking through your objectives and options, you will be able to make an informed decision and proceed with confidence with the procedures that will help you enjoy the best possible smile aesthetics and long-term oral health.