When it comes to oral care and dentistry, there are various fields that different dentists specialise in. Two such fields are cosmetic and restorative dentistry, with vast differences that set each specialty apart.

cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry: What is it?

For the case of cosmetic dentistry, its name should be indicative of what it involves: improving the appearance or aesthetics of teeth, gums, and overall smiles. More often than not, cosmetic dentistry does not include dental work that fixes or improves upon oral functions, and is largely superficial.

To get a better idea of what cosmetic dentistry involves, here are some typical procedures that cosmetic dentists carry out for their patients:

  1. Whitening

    Also known as ‘tooth bleaching’, this is the most common dental procedure that patients undergo in order to improve the appearance of their smiles and discoloured teeth.

  2. Reshaping

    It involves removing enamel to improve tooth appearance, whether it is caused by small chips or just too long or crooked.

  3. Bonding

    Enamel-like dental composite is used to alter the appearance of a tooth, being sculpted into shape before being polished.

  4. Bridging

    This refers to the replacement of missing teeth.

  5. Veneers

    These are thin layers of porcelain laminates that rest directly over your teeth, in order to close gaps or enhance overall shape.

  6. Implants

    These replace missing teeth.

  7. Straightening

    For people with crooked teeth, straightening is an option to reshape and adjust the appearance of their smile.

Restorative Dentistry: What is it?

Unlike cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry deals in dental work relating to the diagnosis, management, and treatment of diseases of teeth and their supporting structures. In this case, both oral hygiene and function are severely affected, often by diseases that bring about decay that may spread throughout a person’s whole mouth if left unchecked.

Restorative dentistry procedures include the following:

  1. Inlays, onlays, and veneers

  2. Crowns and bridges

  3. Root canal therapy

  4. Composite tooth dental fillings

  5. Amalgam (silver dental fillings)

Differences between Cosmetic and Restorative: A Summary

It should be clear by now that cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry function for different reasons, and do not often overlap. Key differences between these two dentistry fields can be summarised as such:

Cosmetic dentistry is not concerned with rehabilitation or restoration of teeth or its supporting structures as a result of disease as opposed to restorative dentistry. Cosmetic work only improves upon existing appearances of various oral features, such as whitening teeth or reshaping them.

Restorative dentistry works primarily to prevent decay or the spread of disease, and involves intervention and reparation. It is not concerned with oral appearance or aesthetics.

It is important to know the difference between these two fields of dentistry. After all, if one suffers from imminent tooth decay or a disease that threatens the integrity and health of one’s oral support structures, it would be unwise to approach a cosmetic dentist to try and reverse these conditions.

In the same way, restorative dentistry will not help to straighten your teeth or whiten discoloured teeth, and should not be considered if one’s oral aesthetics merely need a bit of adjustments.