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Restorative VS Cosmetic Dentistry

Most people have heard of cosmetic dentistry as a way to get a perfect smile. But sometimes before cosmetic procedures can take place there needs to be a little work done to lay a proper foundation. This is where restorative dentistry comes in. Never heard of it? Not to worry, we’ve broken down both areas of the dental profession to give you all the information you need and get you one step closer to the smile of your dreams.

What is restorative dentistry?

Restorative dentistry refers to management and procedures that your dentist performs to keep your mouth healthy and functional. These procedures include putting in dental implants, dentures, fillings, and crowns. This kind of dentistry does not require specialization; it just refers to the preventative and corrective steps that general practice dentists take to make sure that our mouths stay as healthy as possible. Restorative dentistry is first and foremost concerned with keeping the mouth functioning as best it can and, in the process of doing so, can improve the overall look of one’s smile. This is what separates restorative dentistry from cosmetic dentistry — the latter is more concerned with aesthetics.

What kind of issues can restorative dentistry procedures fix?

A dental implant works exceptionally well to anchor replacement teeth.
A dental implant works exceptionally well to anchor replacement teeth.

There are a variety of things that can go awry in the mouth, which is why dental professionals work hard to make sure that any possible issues are dealt with early on, or prevented altogether. The most common issues include cavities which are filled to prevent further decay; missing teeth that are replaced with implants, bridges, or dentures; and broken teeth which can be strengthened and protected with crowns or caps.

What is cosmetic dentistry?

Whereas restorative dentistry is primarily concerned with keeping mouths healthy and functioning, cosmetic dentistry is more focused on improving the look of your smile. While dentists always put the health of your mouth first, having cosmetic procedures done may not necessarily improve how well your mouth works as much as how it looks.

What are the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures?

People choose to improve the look of their smiles for various reasons. Chipped, uneven, or yellowing teeth are frequent issues seen in any dental office and may be sources of self-consciousness for many people. The following procedures take care of these problems and are the most popular in cosmetic dentistry.

Teeth whitening

Having your teeth whitened involves bleaching them in order to get rid of any discolouration or stains on the enamel of the tooth. There are a variety of teeth whitening procedures that can be done in the dental chair, at home, or with a mixture of both, depending on the patient’s preferences and budget. Teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, however, so any implants, fillings, crowns, or veneers will not be bleached and may end up being a different shade.


Small chips and minor discolouration are easily fixed with bonding. It is a tooth-coloured putty that can be molded to fill in holes or chips in teeth and can even be used to fill small cavities. Bonding can last for a few years before needing to be replaced but has been known to chip easily before then. If this should happen, the bonding would just need to be reapplied by a dentist.


Contouring is when a dentist reshapes a patient’s tooth or teeth. This can mean altering the position, width, length, or the shape. Contouring requires strong, healthy teeth and good overall oral health as it involves either sanding or using a laser to achieve the new shape. Contouring is often used with bonding to fill in chips. Reshaping teeth is a great quick and permanent option for those with crooked teeth, those with teeth that overlap or are different lengths, or those who have teeth at undesired angles. After contouring, the teeth will be polished to make the new smile shine.


Veneers are usually porcelain shells, but can also be plastic, and they are placed to cover the front of the tooth. They are fitted to each tooth and cemented on, changing the colour and shape of the tooth and providing a more permanent change than whitening or bonding. This procedure is very popular even with celebrities as it is an easy way to gain a perfect smile.

Can restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry be used together?

Both restorative and cosmetic procedures can be done in the same mouth, yes. Often, restorative dentistry will fix any major issues, such as missing or broken teeth, then cosmetic measures can be taken, such as reshaping, to put the finishing touches on a new smile.

If you’re curious about whether any of these procedures might be suitable for you, feel free to reach out to any one of our 123 Dentist member clinics. We’re always happy to answer questions or concerns, and welcome the chance to demystify dentistry. See you soon!