dental instruments and oral health

What is Restorative Dentistry?

Restorative dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on replacing damaged or missing teeth, such as the removal and repair of cavities and other oral conditions.

Restorative dentists treat patients at every stage of life, including children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Their goal is to save teeth and also restore the natural look, shape, and feel of natural teeth by:

Restorative Dental Materials

Restorative dental materials are the foundation of tooth structure replacement. In particular, they fabricate cavity fillings, crowns, implants, dentures, and other restorations. For example, common materials include:

  • Metals
  • Amalgam Alloys
  • Polymers
  • Ceramics
  • Composites
  • Glass Ionomers
  • Denture Base Resins
  • Noble and Base Metals

Restorative vs Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry use some of the same materials and procedure codes. However, if treatment is needed because of a disease, it is considered restorative. Even if the end result is an improved appearance, it is still a restorative procedure. Additionally, cosmetic (esthetic) dental procedures improve a patient’s smile and self-image. Esthetic treatments include veneers and teeth whitening.

Types of Procedures & Treatments

Restorative solutions include bridges, dentures, fillings, crowns, inlays, onlays, implants, and bonding:

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are tooth-colored or metal restorations. In short, they replace substantial missing tooth structure caused by root canals, dental decay, or fractures. Crowns also serve as full-coverage “caps” that restore the normal size, shape, and function of a tooth.


Dentures are either removable or fixed sets of prosthetic teeth that replace multiple missing teeth. When someone loses all of their teeth, usually from advanced dental decay or gum disease, custom dentures are a standard solution. There are five different types, including complete dentures, fixed partial dentures, removable partial dentures, implant-retained dentures, and immediate dentures.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are full-coverage restorations that cover three or more teeth. However, they only replace one or more teeth. In addition, two teeth “bridge the gap” on both sides of the missing tooth. Bridges are the result of extreme dental decay, missing teeth, or extractions.

Dental Implants

After an extraction or tooth loss, a dental implant is commonly used to replace the permanent tooth. During the procedure, a dental specialist surgically places an implant (artificial tooth root) into the patient’s jawbone. The implant also mirrors the shape of a screw and bonds with the natural bone. Oral surgeons and periodontists perform implant procedures.

Dental Bonding

Bonding procedures incorporate composite resins (tooth-colored fillings made of glass and plastic). Dental bonds are used to fill cavities, repair cracked or chipped teeth, or cover the surface of discolored teeth.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are partial tooth-colored or gold restorations that restore smaller areas of missing or damaged tooth structure. They are slightly less invasive than crowns and consist of indirect restorative materials. In other words, dental lab technicians make the repairs outside of the mouth.