Dentistry is a diverse field that features numerous subspecialties, each catering to unique dental needs. 

While the common folk need not delve into the intricacies of these subspecialties, it pays to be informed, so you know which dental clinics offer the treatments you require.

Today, we’ll discuss the critical differences between restorative and cosmetic dentistry, beginning by defining these subspecialties. 

Restorative Dentistry

As the name implies, restorative dentistry is the branch of dentistry primarily concerned with repairing and replacing damaged teeth. It is a highly specialized, cutting-edge field where modern dental procedures repair, save, and maintain teeth, gums, and bite functions.

The most common treatments performed in restorative dentistry include the following:

  • Dental Fillings: address cavities and restore decayed teeth
  • Dentures: replace missing teeth
  • Crowns and Bridges: restore and protect teeth that sustained damage from dental decay or injury
  • Tooth Extractions: remove severely damaged teeth
  • Root Canals: correct extensively decayed teeth with bacterial infections

Simply put, restorative dentistry focuses on preserving and saving patients’ teeth, ensuring they have all the pieces needed to show bright smiles.

Cosmetic Dentistry

On the other hand, cosmetic dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on enhancing the appearance of teeth and bite functions.

While the primary objective of cosmetic dentistry is to make teeth as beautiful as possible, this field also aims to improve the aesthetics of a patient’s smile by matching it with their features.

Dentists who perform cosmetic dentistry typically offer at least one of the following procedures:

  • Tooth Bleaching: remove stains from the patient’s teeth
  • Enamel Bonding: rebuild damaged teeth and restore the appearance of teeth
  • Dental Veneers: add layers of porcelain on the patient’s teeth to fix discoloration and enhance their look
  • Invisalign Braces: a revolutionary technique to align crooked teeth without affecting surrounding teeth
  • Enamel Microabrasion: a sanding method that smoothens and improves the look of the patient’s teeth

Restorative Dentistry vs. Cosmetic Dentistry

Restorative and cosmetic dentistry are similar in the sense that they both revolve around the upkeep of a patient’s teeth.

However, the subtle differences show in the issues that these subspecialties address. For one, restorative dentistry is better suited for patients with troublesome cavities or who need dental implants. Meanwhile, cosmetic dentistry is more helpful for patients who want to enhance the appearance of their smiles. 

Essentially, restorative dentistry aims to protect and preserve a patient’s teeth, while cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the aesthetics of a patient’s teeth and bite functions.

Applying Cosmetic Dentistry and Restorative Dentistry 

If you’re wondering whether cosmetic and restorative dentistry can work together, the answer is yes. In fact, many patients opt to receive treatments from dentists who operate in both fields to boost the health and aesthetics of their smiles.

For instance, some patients require restorative dental procedures to prevent future cavities or the need for dental implants. In that case, a dentist would instruct the patient to maintain their newly restored teeth through good oral hygiene and regular visits to prevent gum disease and dental decay.

Others would require cosmetic dentistry to fix discoloration or improve the alignment of their teeth. These patients typically receive instructions to maintain optimal mouth health for their teeth to retain their new look.


As you can see, restorative and cosmetic dentistry are two different fields of dentistry with unique objectives. However, they work hand in hand to ensure that patients have healthy and beautiful smiles.

Now that you’re more informed on the differences between the two, you’ll be better equipped to choose a dentist.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Chattanooga that offers restorative and cosmetic dentistry, look no further than Shallowford Family Dental. We are a long-standing dental clinic with seventy-five years of experience in dentistry. Book an appointment with us today to improve your dental health! 

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