Restorative dentistry is exactly what it sounds like: the branch of dentistry that is meant to rehabilitate the teeth to a state in which they can fulfil their aesthetic and functional purpose, and to make sure that the surrounding supporting structures are healthy as well. Aside from the building of dental prosthetics, restorative dentistry also covers the most popular treatments that people tend to get, like dental fillings and root canal treatments as well. Below will be a quick rundown of the different kinds of restorative dental procedures, with short descriptions given as well.
The most common dental procedure that patients get is by far the dental filling. A dental filling is a restorative dental procedure, and involves taking a decayed tooth, removing the decayed bits, and sealing the tooth up with a composite resin, otherwise known as a tooth coloured filling. Tooth coloured dental fillings are the perfect restoration for minor problems and damage to the teeth. They can help with both aesthetic and functional restoration, and are non-toxic as well.
We tend to think of teeth as solid, singular entities, but in reality they are composed of many layers and are hollow, with a pulp chamber in the middle that is hollow. This pulp chamber can become infected, if bacteria that cause tooth decay breach the tooth enamel, the cementum and find their way into it. When this happens, a filling is inadequate and ineffective at fighting off the infection, and a multi-appointment treatment called a root canal treatment needs to begin. At the first appointment the infected bits will be removed, the tooth will be opened and the roots will be enlarged. Then, a medicated root filling will be placed that will kill off the bacterial infection. This will be repeated until all of the infection is gone and they can fill the tooth up and seal it. This procedure kills the tooth (disconnects it from the nerves and blood supply) but keeps it in the mouth and functional for decades, given proper oral hygiene.
If a tooth is too far gone, and the tooth is left unable to fulfil its function of biting, chewing and speech, then it needs to be restored with an inlay or onlay or a dental crown. A dental crown is a replica of the tooth or its cusps made of porcelain with either a metal or a porcelain (or zirconium) internal structure. Inlays and onlays are basically just pieces of dental crowns that work the same way, but are meant to replace just a missing chunk of tooth.