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When looking for dental treatments, you will often come across different specialties dependent on your needs. Two of the widely misappropriated aspects of oral care are cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry. Patients will often come in and ask for cosmetic treatments, only to later find out that they need restorative dental procedures first!

Despite some similarities, there are major differences that distinguish one from the other. When looking at your options for affordable dentistry services, here’s a rundown on the main differences between restorative and cosmetic dentistry:

Restorative Dentistry

This type of dentistry is all about bringing the different parts of the mouth to a state and level of functionality that is considered “healthy.” In other words, it restores the mouth to work like normal and promotes the overall management of good oral health and hygiene.

Many licensed dentists are able to address oral issues that involve restoring both its function and appearance, but prosthodontic dentists are especially adept at dealing with these oral problems. Those in this specialization cover dentures, bridges, crowns, and implants involved in restoration, which comes in two parts:

1. Direct

This kind of tooth restoration refers to filling placements in tooth cavities. These procedures are usually completed in a single visit to the dentist’s clinic using the best filling option for the affected tooth’s cavity.

The filling your dentist will choose also depends on where it will be placed on your tooth and the area’s chewing pressure. For instance, a filling near the root of your tooth will typically be made of glass or resin ionomers since the root area is not as exposed to chewing pressure. Different fillings may be used in other areas of your tooth.

2. Indirect

If a tooth replacement involves crowns and inlays for a partial replacement, then it’s considered an indirect tooth restoration. These treatments are typically done throughout several visits to the dentist.

While partially damaged teeth are restored with inlays that are placed adjacent to the remaining teeth, crowns are more suited for severely damaged or missing teeth, which involves the tooth’s entire chewing surface.

Cosmetic Dentistry

While restorative dentistry has an element that considers the look of a patient’s teeth, it is vastly different from the purpose of cosmetic dentistry. The latter’s focus is more on the aesthetic appeal of a patient’s teeth than overall oral health. It improves the shape, alignment, color, and size of the teeth to boost the patient’s self-confidence.

Treatments in this specialization include teeth whitening, veneers, or alignment procedures, such as Invisalign. If you’re someone that’s concerned with staining, misalignment, and gaps, this is the kind of dentistry you should be looking for!

What Are the Main Differences?

The main difference between these two dentistry types is mainly the area of expertise of the dentist who will be handling your treatments. Both restorative and cosmetic procedures are done by licensed dentists who will have your oral health in mind above all else, but their focus will vary depending on what you need to be done. For example, going to a dentist that specializes in cosmetic procedures might not give you optimal results if you’re looking to have a complicated set of dentures placed. In contrast, a prosthodontist may not be the best at providing you with Invisalign applications.

Other differences include the experience of the dentist performing the work. Restorative dentists are typically more junior dentists focused on the oral health of a patient, as compared to the more experienced dentists who extend their services to improve a patient’s quality of life work through cosmetic dentistry.


Different patients will have different needs when it comes to dental care. Some will need a crown put in while others need a set of braces or aligners, and it’s essential to know which type of dentist to visit when considering treatment for any aspect of your oral health. Knowing the differences between restorative and cosmetic dentistry will allow patients to choose a specialist that will deliver the best results for their needs.

Finding the right dental clinic for your cosmetic or restorative needs doesn’t have to be difficult. Here at the Dental House in Waterford and Ann Arbor, we offer services on both cosmetic and restorative dentistry, handling oral surgery, dental implants, dentures, and more! To know more about our dental services, visit our website today.

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Ann Arbor Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Thur 9am - 6pm, Fri & Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 4860 Washtenaw Ave D, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Waterford Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Fri 9am - 6pm, Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 5979 Highland Rd, Waterford Twp, MI 48327
West Bloomfield Dentist Office
Hours : Monday, Wednesday to Friday 9am - 6pm
Address : 6595 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield, MI 48322
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