Both restorative and cosmetic dentistry can fix damaged or missing teeth, but there are key differences in each treatment. Restorative dental treatments are essential for the health of your teeth while cosmetic dentistry is elective and mainly for aesthetic purposes. Below are the different types of procedures that fall under each type of dentistry care.
Restorative dentistry procedures
Restorative dentistry focuses on repairing or restoring oral structures that are damaged from decay or fractures. Examples of dental restorations include:
Fillings - The most common type of restoration procedure to fill cavities. Fillings can be gold, silver, tooth-coloured plastic, or composite resin.
Crowns - Placed over a tooth, a crown is a tooth-shaped cap used to restore its shape, strength, and appearance. Crowns can also be used to hold a bridge in place or to cover a dental implant.
Dentures - Dentures are a removable replacement that come in three types: conventional, immediate, and overdenture. Conventional dentures are removable and can be used several months after teeth are removed and gum tissues have healed. Immediate dentures are also removable and can be inserted the same day that the last teeth are removed. An overdenture fits on top of the remaining teeth or implants.
Dental implants - Implants are used to replace missing teeth. They are posts typically made of titanium and placed into the bone socket and sometimes with an attachment called an abutment. A crown that looks and functions like real teeth is then placed on top.
Bridges - Dental bridges are a fixed partial denture that is used to “bridge” the gap of missing teeth. They can be made from porcelain, gold, alloys, or a combination of materials. If multiple teeth are missing, dental implants are used to anchor fixed bridges. This helps to keep the restorative treatment minimally-invasive, cost-effective, and less painful with a shorter recovery time.
Cosmetic dentistry procedures
Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the look of smiles with chipped, uneven, or yellowing teeth. Some of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures include:
Teeth whitening - Professional teeth whitening can be done in the dental office or at home with a kit that the dentist provides. Professional teeth whitening products are stronger than commercial whitening kits and the desired shade can be achieved quicker. Moreover, a dentist can determine whether teeth will whiten to a different shade because of a filling and will look for any signs of decay first before applying any whitening products.
Bonding - Bonding fixes small chips and minor discolouration with a tooth-coloured putty.
Contouring - Contouring is used to reshape crooked teeth, teeth that overlap, or for teeth that have different lengths and angles. It is a quick and permanent procedure that is only used on strong and healthy teeth on patients with good oral health.
Veneers - Veneers cover the front of the tooth and are typically made of porcelain or plastic. This is a more permanent procedure than whitening or bonding.
Both restorative and cosmetic dentistry can be performed by a general dentist, meaning you won’t need to see a specialist. Depending on your oral health and desired outcome, your dentist will recommend the procedure that will produce the best results.