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As Summit OMS is made up of a team of highly qualified oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists, they are aware of the confusion that comes from different classifications of dentistry. For instance, many patients ask, “what is cosmetic dentistry?”, “what is restorative dentistry?”, or “what is the difference between a cosmetic dentist and a restorative dentist?” However, while there are definitive answers to these questions, there is some overlap that may lead to further confusion. Therefore, to help understand the differences and similarities, it first helps to define the niches and the specializations or standard treatments of both types of dentistry.

What is Restorative Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry and restorative differences

Restorative dentistry is focused on the restoration of the mouth and the overall management of oral health. While this definition can be hard to understand, essentially, this type of dentistry is focused on maintaining the functionality, well-being and aesthetic appearance of the mouth. While the American Dental Association does not yet recognize restorative dentistry as a designated specialty, many of the procedures can be performed by practiced dentists without any further education or certifications. However, for patients wishing to work under an experienced professional, you can seek those with a prosthodontic specialty, as this specialty tends to cover bridges, crowns, fillings, implants and dentures. Regardless of specialty, under restorative dentistry, you will likely experience one of two types of tooth restoration.

  • Direct

    Direct tooth restoration involves the placement of a filling into a tooth cavity. Since this type of procedure is straightforward, it is typically completed in one office visit using the appropriate filling option for the location of the cavity and chewing pressure. For instance, if the filling is being placed near the root of the tooth, then a glass or resin ionomers are typically chosen because these areas are not often exposed to significant pressure.


  • Indirect

    Indirect tooth restoration refers to the partial or complete replacement of a tooth with the use of inlays, onlays or crowns. For partial tooth damage, an onlay or inlay will be placed within the cusps of the tooth, which may include part of the chewing surface. For missing, rotted or severely damaged teeth, a dentist may recommend a crown, which encompasses the whole chewing surface of the tooth. These procedures are considered indirect because they happen over the course of several visits.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Unlike restorative dental treatment, cosmetic dentistry, as the name implies, is focused more on the cosmetic or aesthetic appeal of a patients smile than health. Therefore, cosmetic dentistry is more focused on improving the confidence of someone’s smile through techniques and procedures that will improve alignment, shape, color and size of the teeth and mouth as well as the appearance of the gums and bite. Therefore, if you are a patient that is concerned about gaps, staining, misalignment or any other visual dental issue, then you may be interested in pursuing cosmetic dentistry. While there are many procedures and treatment plans for patients seeking assistance from a cosmetic dental specialist, some of the most popular are as follows:

  • Veneers
  • Crowns
  • Bonding
  • Teeth whitening
  • Implants
  • Inlays and onlays

Differences between Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry

While a patient may prefer some procedures with a particular type of dentist, like non-cosmetic dental implants cosmetic surgeon, both restorative and cosmetic dentistry have a specialized focused. However, each specialization is performed by a dentist who cares for the patient’s health. Therefore, the key difference between the two types of dentistry is on the focus and experience of the practicing dentist. Restorative dentistry is typically performed by more junior dentists who are more focused on the health of the patient, while cosmetic dentistry is generally performed by a more experienced practitioner whose focus goes beyond health to improving quality of life. Whether you are in need of a restorative or cosmetic dentist the practitioners at Summit OMS are highly skilled and capable of assisting you, no matter your needs. Contact one of their offices today to schedule an appointment.