If you’ve ever looked into updating your smile with dental implants, porcelain veneers, or orthodontics, you may have wondered whether what you’re seeking is cosmetic dentistry or reconstructive dentistry. Although there are key differences between the two types of dentistry, they can have some crossover and often serve similar purposes.
The primary goal of reconstructive dentistry is right there in the name: To reconstruct the smile you once had. Reconstructive dentistry is for people whose teeth have suffered damage or wear. If you have lost teeth due to disease or trauma, experienced chipped or broken teeth, or even if your mouth is simply showing signs of wear and tear, reconstructive dentistry aims to bring your dental health and aesthetics back into tip-top shape.
For example, if you need a filling or have older fillings that need replacing, reconstructive dentistry can solve the problem with composite fillings. These fillings are colored to look like your teeth, so they will be a subtle and attractive part of your smile.
If you’re missing a few teeth, you have a few options within reconstructive dentistry to replace them. You may want to try dentures, which have come a long way since the days of the ill-fitting, unnatural-looking sets we see in the popular media. Or, if you want a more permanent solution and are a good candidate for them, dental implants are the ultimate reconstructive dentistry tool, allowing you to replace a missing tooth with a fully functional artificial one.
In short, reconstructive dentistry aims to correct damage and wear to your teeth — and leave them more beautiful in the process.
Cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, is more concerned with aesthetics. While your teeth may be perfectly healthy and sturdy, you may still want to update your smile to have a more beautiful appearance.
While a dental crown, which shields the entire tooth to both protect and conceal it, would be considered reconstructive dentistry, porcelain veneers are the cosmetic dentistry alternative. These thin veneers of advanced dental ceramic can easily improve the appearance of healthy teeth.
The bottom line is that cosmetic dentistry is made up of procedures that aren’t medically necessary, but instead aim to give you a beautiful smile you can proud to show off.
Sometimes, procedures from both camps can be used simultaneously. A complete smile makeover can give you a brand new look with a custom-designed combination of procedures that may include both cosmetic and reconstructive elements. In the end, the difference between reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry doesn’t really matter for you, the patient: All that matters is that you walk out of your dentist’s office with a healthy smile you love.