Restorative Dentistry vs. Cosmetic Dentistry: What’s the Difference?

When most people think of going to the dentist, they think of getting their teeth cleaned or for a filling. But what about when you need more than just a simple procedure? What if you need extensive work done on your teeth? This is where restorative and cosmetic dentistry comes in. Here’s everything you need to know about restorative dentistry vs. cosmetic dentistry in Lakewood, CO.

What is Restorative Dentistry?

Restorative dentistry focuses on repairing and restoring teeth that have been damaged or lost. Restorative dentistry procedures in Lakewood are typically geared towards damage or decay. Many different types of dental procedures fall under the umbrella of restorative dentistry, including: 

Restorative dental procedures can be performed on patients of all ages. However, they are often necessary for adults who often have more significant damage and decay. Keep in mind that before we work on restorative dentistry procedures, we determine the root cause of the damage or decay. In some cases, damage or decay may be a one-off issue. But when teeth are crooked, worn, or when fillings fall out frequently, it may be a sign of mouth breathing or even sleep apnea

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Cosmetic dentistry is typically more focused on improving the aesthetic of the teeth and smile. Some common procedures associated with cosmetic dentistry in Lakewood include teeth whitening, veneers, and composite bonding. These procedures can correct various dental concerns, from stained or discolored teeth to gaps and misshapen teeth. 

Many different types of dental procedures fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry, including:  

These treatments can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile.

Differences Between Restorative Dentistry Vs. Cosmetic Dentistry

There are a few key differences between restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.

Different Purposes

Restorative dentistry maintains your dental function and health. Restorative dental treatments focus on restoring decayed, damaged, or missing teeth so you can maintain their proper function and health. It’s typically a necessary treatment. 

Cosmetic dental treatment, on the other hand, is focused on the aesthetics of your teeth. The most common cosmetic treatments, like teeth whitening or dental veneers, are exclusively considered cosmetic. These treatments are typically not considered necessary, but elective. 

Essential vs. Elective

Dental care is usually sought when something wrong has happened to your teeth, like pain, swelling or bleeding. If this is the case, you should seek dental treatment in Lakewood for immediate care.

Cosmetic treatments are typically sought by people who are unsatisfied with the appearance of their smile. Restorative dental treatments, which help to relieve symptoms and repair teeth, have greater urgency than cosmetic treatments.


Restorative dental treatments are less expensive than cosmetic ones since they often require less time and materials. However, this rule has some exceptions depending on the procedure being performed. For example, dental implants can be quite expensive regardless of whether they are used for restorative or cosmetic purposes.

Insurance Plans

Dental restorative services are typically covered by insurance plans since they restore the function of teeth. Cosmetic dental procedures, on the other hand, are usually not covered by insurance since they are considered elective. 

It’s important to consult a Lakewood dentist to determine which procedure is right for you. In some cases, a combination of both restorative and cosmetic procedures achieve the best results.

Dental Procedures that can be Both Restorative and Cosmetic

Many dental procedures are for both restorative and cosmetic purposes. For example, teeth whitening can brighten your teeth that have been dulled by stains, but it can also be used to correct discoloration caused by tooth decay or other damage. Similarly, dental veneers repair teeth with cracks or chips. They can also create a more uniform appearance or cover up minor imperfections. In many cases, the decision to have a procedure for restorative or cosmetic purposes will come down to the patient’s preference. Dental procedures that can be both include:

  1. Dental Crowns – Dental crowns cover the exposed part of a tooth, restoring teeth to their original appearance and strengthening them.
  2. Dental Bridges – A dental bridge is an artificial device that helps fill in the gaps caused by a missing tooth.
  3. Veneers – Veneers are thin layers of material that cover the front of teeth and make them look whiter.They can also cover up any damage on the tooth’s surface.
  4. Implants – A dental implant is a device that mimics the function of natural tooth roots. Placing a dental implant in your jawbone is an anchor for a replacement tooth.

What are the Benefits of Each Type of Dentistry?

Restorative Dentistry in Lakewood, CO:

Restorative dentistry can help dental structure problems. It can also help:

  • improve the chewing function of your teeth
  • restore the natural shape of your teeth
  • fill in gaps between your teeth
  • reduce the appearance of tooth wear
  • protect your remaining natural teeth

Cosmetic Dentistry in Lakewood, CO:

Cosmetic dentistry can help you if you are unhappy with how your teeth look. It can also:

  • give you whiter and brighter teeth
  • improve the alignment, shape, and size of your teeth
  • close gaps between your teeth
  • help boost your self-confidence
  • give you a more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing smile 
  • give you a more youthful appearance

Determining If You Need Cosmetic Or Restorative Dental Treatment

The first thing to ask yourself when considering dental work is what your primary reason for needing it is. Do you need it for cosmetic purposes so you can smile with confidence? Or do you need to reduce pain and regain core dental functions?

If you have the former issue, you’ll need cosmetic procedures. But if you have the latter, dental restorative services will be appropriate as well as more urgent. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to determine which treatment is right for you is to consult a dentist or other oral health professional. They will be able to assess your needs and recommend the best course of treatment.

Schedule an Appointment With Fox Point Dental in Lakewood, CO

At Fox Point Dental in Lakewood, Colorado a range of dental treatments are available that promote whole health and a smile to be proud of. They aim to help you eliminate dental problems, so you can live healthier and more confidently. Schedule an appointment with us today!

To learn more about our Restorative Dentistry Services, visit this page here.

To learn more about our Cosmetic Dentistry Services, visit this page here.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

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