Cosmetic Dentistry vs. Restorative Dentistry: All You Need To Know

Keeping the teeth in peak shape is essential to your overall oral health. However, did you know that your smile can have a significant impact on other aspects of your life as well? Let’s examine the following interesting (and surprising statistics):

  • At least a third of Americans are unhappy with their smile, leading to confidence issues
  • Up to 36% of respondents believe having better teeth can lead to a better social life
  • At least 77% of women found bad teeth to be more of a turn-off than a receding hairline
  • A University of Pittsburgh study indicated that smiling could make people seem more trustworthy

The good news is there’s no shortage of ways to fix one’s smile. For starters, there’s restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Often, these two forms of dentistry overlap, depending on the procedures involved and the final results. However, many people think both approaches are the same.

What is Restorative Dentistry?

Sometimes referred to as operative dentistry, restorative dentistry involves the study, diagnosis, and unified management of diseases related to the teeth and their structure. Also known as oral rehabilitation, restorative dentistry combines several dentistry branches, including periodontics, endodontics, and prosthodontics.

Restorative dentistry also focuses on treating conditions such as cavities (dental caries), periodontitis, gingivitis, and broken teeth. Typical measures used in restorative dentistry include bridges, fillings, crowns, and more. The measures are designed to rectify malocclusion (misaligned jaws and teeth) and bacterial infection.

What are the Benefits of Restorative Dentistry?

One of the primary goals of restorative dentistry is to restore the teeth’s regular function while retaining its aesthetics. Some of the peerless benefits of restorative dentistry include:

  • It helps bring back the teeth’s normal bite and function
  • It helps treat different dental issues
  • It helps improve oral health
  • It helps you eat and speak normally
  • It helps provide a long-lasting solution to some oral problems

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry focuses on fixing the smile and the teeth’s general appearance. While cosmetic dental procedures are typically elective, some procedures do provide restorative benefits. Cosmetic dental procedures can involve altering the size, shape, and color as well as the alignment and position of the teeth and bite.  

In a nutshell, cosmetic dentistry deals with oral concerns that affect the patient’s look. It targets misshapen and misaligned teeth, discoloration, etc. Depending on the issue, cosmetic surgery can help improve the looks of the teeth and fix gum or bite problems. 

In other words, your dentist can reshape your teeth, restore worn teeth, or close in gaps to help you achieve the smile you have always wanted. Some popular cosmetic procedures also involve orthodontic care like teeth straightening. Other well-known cosmetic procedures include:

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Bonding
  • Crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Aligners
  • Braces
  • Teeth whitening
  • Bite adjustment
  • Gum lift

How is Restorative Dentistry Different from Cosmetic Dentistry?

If you are suffering from missing or damaged teeth or would like to improve your smile and your teeth’s overall health, restorative dentistry is something you should look into. Restorative dentistry can also be extremely beneficial in improving your speaking or eating abilities and can help prevent future oral problems. 

On the other hand, cosmetic dentistry focuses more on improving the appearance of the patient’s smile. However, as mentioned earlier, there are instances when the two procedures can overlap. For example, fixing a chipped tooth can be both cosmetic and restorative as it affects the looks of the patient and the function of the tooth.


If you are unsure which of the two procedures is best for your case, ask yourself what your primary purpose of needing a specific dental procedure is. Do you want to improve your smile, or are you looking for pain relief? 

If it’s the former, cosmetic dentistry would be apt. If it is that latter, restorative dentistry might be more suitable. It is recommended that you should speak with your dental health provider to be guided on the treatment option that will benefit you best. 

About The Author

Dr. Boyle

Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle

Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle completed her Doctorate in Dental Medicine from Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, AZ. As a leader in the field of cosmetic dentistry and full-mouth rehabilitation, she is committed to providing exceptional dental care to the local community. She is also affiliated with prestigious organizations, including the American Dental Association. Her extensive involvement in these reputable institutions speaks to her commitment to advancing the field of dentistry.