Restorative dentistry is a practice that provides restoration of teeth that have problems. This refers to most major procedures such as crowns, inlays, bridges and dentures. It also covers esthetic fillings, air abrasion, and micro-dentistry. So, what's the difference between that and what my family dentist can provide?
Specialized Restorative Technique
Your family dentist practices restorative dentistry for the most part. They can fill cavities, perform root canals, and place crowns where they belong. In that sense, they do practice restorative dentistry. But not all family practitioners who perform general dentistry have the equipment that a restorative dentist has.
Air abrasion is one example. Air abrasion is a fine powdered form of aluminum oxide which, under pressure, blasts out small cavities in the teeth. This technique is more conservative than the traditional methods that involve drilling the cavity out to cleanse it. Using this technique, some of the "good" tooth material is also lost. It is now believed that over time this method weakens the tooth.
With air abrasion, only the decayed part of the tooth is removed, leaving more of the healthy tooth behind. The cavity is then filled with white fillings so you won't even notice the difference.
Another tool is the use of esthetic fillings. Unlike the old amalgam fillings, esthetic fillings use a plastic composite that bonds to the tooth to hold it together. Amalgam fillings merely filled the void left by the decayed material. They worked but they didn't bond to the tooth and increase its strength as the new composite fillings do.
The beauty of the esthetic fillings is that they can recreate the structure of the tooth that is missing which helps to strengthen it. The composite resin is basically painted on, layer by layer. Each successive layer is then bonded before the next layer is added. This is what strengthens the tooth.
If you have excessive work that you believe needs to be performed on your teeth, see if your dentist is equipped to do the conservative restorative techniques that can be performed if the office has the proper equipment.
Restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry frequently overlap so check for a dentist that is certified in one or the other, or both.