3 Main Differences Between Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry

Cosmetic and restorative dentistry do have a lot in common. For starters, they are both used to restore damaged, decayed, or missing teeth. Additionally, they can both be performed by a general dentist, meaning that you will have no need to visit a specialist. This is because general dentists possess the ability to provide preventative, restorative, and cosmetic services within their offices. 

Cosmetic and restorative dentistry do have a lot in common, TN

But, if cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry are so similar, how are the two differentiated, and what do these differences mean to when completing cosmetic and restorative procedures? In order to answer that question, here are the main differences between cosmetic and restorative dentistry: 

  1. Essential vs. Elective
    Restorative dental treatments are those that are performed in order to repair a broken, decayed, or missing tooth. Most people seek dental treatment because there is something wrong with their teeth. Often times, people experiencing dental pain, swelling, or bleeding seek dental care to alleviate these problems with restorative dental care.

    Cosmetic dental treatments, on the other hand, are elective procedures used to alter the color, shape, size, alignment, and spacing of teeth. Most people seek cosmetic dental treatment as a result of not being happy with the appearance of their smile, rather than because they are experiencing symptoms. Therefore, while restorative dental treatments must be performed to alleviate symptoms and repair the tooth, cosmetic dental treatments do not have the same urgency.
  2. Different Purposes
    The purpose of restorative dentistry is to restore function, while the purpose of cosmetic dentistry is to improve visual appearance. Restorative dental treatments focus on restoring decayed, damaged, or missing teeth in order to maintain proper function and oral health. An example of a commonly performed restorative procedure is a root canal followed by the placement of a dental crown. In this case, the dental crown is being used as a way to protect the remaining tooth structure from future decay or damage.

    However, when a dental crown is used as a cosmetic dental treatment, its purpose is generally to improve the contour, color, or size of the tooth. Since cosmetic dental treatments focus on visual aesthetics, there are also a couple of treatments that are exclusively considered to be purely cosmetic, including professional teeth whitening and dental veneers. This is because neither of these treatments improves the function of the teeth and can only be performed on teeth that are overall healthy. zed as a class 1 malocclusion, while more severe overbites are known as class 2. Most cases of overbites can be corrected with Invisalign treatment alone.
  3. Different Dental Materials
    Another thing that sets restorative dentistry apart from cosmetic dentistry is the type of dental materials used to fabricate restorations. Dental restorations used for restorative purposes are often made from materials that are durable and affordable, rather than aesthetically pleasing. One example of this is amalgam fillings, which are made by a mixture of metals.

    Cosmetic dental materials, on the other hand, offer durability along with aesthetics. Dental restorations used for cosmetic purposes are often selected for their color and translucent properties which allow the restoration to blend in with the surrounding teeth. One example of this would be composite or tooth-colored fillings, which are made using a dental composite resin that can be color-matched to blend with the remaining tooth structure.

As you can see, despite their similarities, restorative and cosmetic dentistry actually have a few key differences including treatment motivations, purposes, and their use of dental materials. Therefore, if you are looking for a specific type of dental treatment, you will want to communicate this with your general dentist before agreeing to any procedure. It is also important to know that there are certain cases where both restorative and cosmetic dental procedures can be used in coordination with one another. 

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Dr. Micheal Costa

Dr. Costa

Dr. Stephen Malone

Dr. Malone

Knoxville Smiles at Malone & Costa Dentistry offers a unique dental care experience to our patients in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas. The crew is committed to protecting and increasing the natural beauty of your smile by employing conservative, cutting-edge techniques that result in attractive, long-lasting smiles!

Our dedicated and experienced team of doctors includes Dr. Stephen Malone, D.M.D., University of Louisville, and Dr. Michael Costa, D.D.S., UNC School of Dentistry, M.H.A., UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, NC. They are firm believers in continuing education to provide their patients with the finest possible care.

Drs. Costa and Malone see their patients as real partners in their service. Our team is committed to making your dental care journey as pleasant as possible.

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