Cosmetic And Restorative Dentistry: How Do They Differ? | Dr. Alex Midtown NYC Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic And Restorative Dentistry: How Do They Differ?

There are different types of dental procedures that you may be offered depending on your needs, but they can generally be classified into two main types: cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry. However, what are the differences and when would you require them? Read on to learn about the key differences between cosmetic and restorative dentistry.


The main difference between cosmetic and restorative dentistry is the purpose of having them done.

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the visual appearance of your teeth and smile. This type of dentistry is elective instead of essential. Cosmetic dentistry involves procedures that help with crooked teeth, discolored teeth, gapped teeth, or chipped teeth, to name a few. These procedures are sometimes also called a smile makeover because they help you to achieve the desired look you want in a smile.

Some examples of cosmetic dentistry procedures include teeth whitening, dental veneers, dental implants, dental crowns, inlays, and onlays. These procedures improve the look of your teeth and smile by making some changes to your natural teeth using various materials.

Restorative dentistry, on the other hand, focuses on restoring the proper function of your teeth and mouth. They are essential instead of elective because having them done is usually necessary to restore your oral health. You may need restorative dentistry to resolve issues such as missing teeth, damaged gums, and tooth decay requiring fillings.

Some examples of restorative dentistry include dental fillings, dental crowns, dental implants, dental bridges, dentures, and root canals. The procedures in restorative dentistry can improve the look of your smile but they are mainly focused on resolving issues that may otherwise be detrimental to your well-being.

Choice vs Need

A person may choose to visit the dentist because they are unhappy with the way their teeth or smile look. Treatments and procedures may involve changing the shape, color, alignment, or size of their teeth. Cosmetic dentistry can help them improve their smile and increase their confidence.

On the other hand, many people go to the dentist when there is a problem with their oral health involving symptoms such as pain, swelling, and bleeding. They seek dental treatment in restorative dentistry as these issues greatly affect their well-being in one way or another. For example, a person with severe tooth decay would definitely require fillings to restore proper oral function.


In cosmetic dentistry, the materials used are mainly for aesthetic purposes. They are durable and are usually able to withstand years of use. The materials in cosmetic dentistry are usually selected based on color and other properties such as how natural they look.

In restorative dentistry, the materials used are often durable yet affordable, while not being as aesthetically pleasing. Amalgam dental filling is one such example. In conclusion, cosmetic and restorative dentistry mainly differ based on their purpose, reasons for getting them done, and the different dental materials used. Sometimes, there can be an overlap where a restorative procedure, such as getting dental veneers, can also help with improving one’s smile. At the end of the day, it is good to be informed about the differences should you need to get either cosmetic or restorative dentistry work done.

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