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Updated on August 2, 2023
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5 Types of Dental Restorations - Pros, Cons & Costs

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What is a Dental Restoration?

A dental restoration refers to a treatment that repairs or replaces part of a tooth or an entire tooth.

When is a Dental Restoration Necessary? 

There are several reasons someone might need a dental restoration, according to Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Trauma, such as from an injury or excessive bruxism (tooth grinding)
  • Defects or aesthetic issues with tooth structure, size, shape, or color
  • To protect the inner part of the tooth after root canal therapy
  • To prevent a tooth fracture from becoming worse
  • Malocclusions (issues with bite)


Dental restorations generally offer either one or both of the following benefits:

  • Restored tooth function 
  • Aesthetic improvements (a better smile)


There are also risks associated with dental restorations. For example, dental restorations can break and may require replacement over time. 

More invasive restoration treatments, such as implants, carry the same risks as any surgery, such as infection and bleeding. 

Recovery Time

Another factor to consider with regard to dental restorations is recovery time. Some treatments, such as implants, may require weeks or months of recovery.

During recovery, you may be required to avoid or minimize certain foods or habits to promote healing. Returning to normal activities too soon may cause pain or prolong recovery.

With other restorations, such as fillings, you may be able to resume a regular diet and other habits the same day you’re treated.

5 Different Types of Dental Restorations

There are a variety of dental restoration treatments available. Each treatment type uses common restoration materials differently.

“It is important to discuss your specific case with your dentist to determine which one is the best for you,” says Dr. Aggarwal.

1. Fillings

Dental fillings are most often used to fill in cavities or holes after root canal treatment. They can also be applied to restore worn teeth or fill in gaps in between teeth.

Fillings can be made from amalgam (a metal alloy) or from materials such as composite resin and glass ionomer. Unlike amalgam, which has a metallic color, composite resin and glass ionomer can be white or tooth-colored.

Placing fillings is not as invasive, costly, or time-consuming as many other restorative treatments. For these reasons, fillings are a common treatment for cavities. Over time, however, fillings risk staining or fracture. Dr. Aggarwal also notes that fillings “cannot replace large amounts of missing or decayed tooth structure.”

2. Crowns

Crowns are fitted caps placed over the teeth for protection and support. They can be made from ceramic or from metals such as gold.

A full crown will cover an entire real tooth. In order to ensure a proper fit, a dental professional must carefully shape the underlying tooth. The precise taper of the underlying prepped tooth, combined with dental cement, holds the crown in place.

According to Dr. Aggarwal, full crowns provide a more homogeneous appearance of the entire tooth. This makes them a highly esthetic option for front teeth.

In less extensive cases of tooth damage, a dental professional may place a partial crown. This requires less shaping of the underlying tooth structure.

Like fillings, crowns can sometimes be placed in a single appointment. The preparation of the underlying tooth is more invasive than a filling, however, and the procedure is more costly.

3. Veneers

Veneers are layers of dental resin or ceramic placed over existing teeth.

As Dr. Aggarwal explains, veneers require “minimal removal of tooth structure” while providing an improved esthetic appearance.

While the low invasiveness of veneers can be attractive, they are more prone to damage than other treatments since they are so fragile.

In addition, veneers may require multiple appointments to complete. They are also more expensive, and insurance might not cover their costs.

4. Bridges

Dental bridges are fixed dental restorations that replace missing teeth. They attach one or more artificial teeth to existing teeth or a dental implant.

Gold, stainless steel, ceramic, and porcelain fused to metal are all materials that can be used in dental bridges.

Like veneers, bridges may require multiple appointments, and are more costly than fillings or crowns. They may also require extensive tooth preparation.

5. Implants

A dental implant acts as a kind of prosthetic tooth root, fitting into the jawbone in order to provide support for a crown or bridge.

The most common dental implant is a titanium screw, designed to integrate with the surrounding bone.

Implants provide long-lasting and natural-looking replacements for missing teeth. They are more invasive than other restoration methods, however, because they have to be placed via surgery.

While implants are more durable, they can fail to integrate. Implants require excellent oral hygiene to prevent failure, according to Dr. Aggarwal, as implants are at risk for gum disease just as regular teeth are. 

How to Care for Dental Restorations

No matter what type of dental restoration you have, good oral hygiene and a healthy diet are paramount for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Dr. Aggarwal also advises avoiding habits that can fracture new restorations, such as opening bottles with your teeth.

Different types of restorations come with their own aftercare requirements.

“For example, bridges require a special type of floss to adequately clean under the prosthetic tooth,” Dr. Aggarwal says. “ In contrast, single-unit crowns can be flossed just like a regular tooth.”

Ask your dentist for aftercare instructions that are specific to your situation.


Dental restorations are the various treatments dentists and oral surgeons use to repair or replace teeth.

Certain restoration treatments are more appropriate for some situations than others. Your dentist can help you determine the treatment that best suits your needs.

Last updated on August 2, 2023
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on August 2, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  3. "Does Your Tooth Need a Full or Partial Crown?" Syosset Dental. March 26, 2019.
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