When choosing a dentist, wouldn’t it make the most sense to go to someone whose qualifications have been tested and verified beyond the level of the average general dentist? After all, you want the BEST care available, and someone who can handle advanced problems, should you ever encounter any.
Prosthodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the restoration and replacement of damaged or missing teeth. A prosthodontic dental professional is called a prosthodontist.
In order to become a prosthodontist, after 4 years of dental school, they must complete 3 additional years of advanced education, focused on all the aspects of prosthodontic treatment. This training is full-time, in a program accredited by the American Dental Association. This specialty training program provides extensive experience in the fabrication of crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays/onlays, complete and removable dentures, and dental implants. Prosthodontists also are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic injuries to oral structures, TMJ, congenital and birth defects, oral cancer reconstruction and in the management of bruxism and sleep apnea disorders.
Like any very technical field there is more to know than anyone could imagine. It may not be obvious but the human mouth is a very complex system. The simple process of speech, chewing and swallowing takes a well-orchestrated effort. This process is taken for granted until there is a disruption in the system. Dental work is a disruption in the system.
A prosthodontist is the only dentist formally educated in the complete system. A prosthodontist is well versed in replacing missing teeth by using crowns, bridges, implants, extractions, partial and full dentures.
An additional layer of verification of their knowledge and skills is the Board Certification process. (No, not all Prosthodontists are Board-Certified. In fact, only about 1 in 3 is, and 55% of them are either in the military or in education).
The Board Certification process requires candidates to demonstrate the highest integration of both clinical and didactic knowledge through a written exam as well as a series of oral exams, in which multiple treatment types are presented before a panel of experienced Board Certified Prosthodontists. It’s a rigorous process and not required in order to practice as a specialist, but another layer of commitment to the craft.
When considering dental work, particularly complex dental work, it is wise to educate yourself before choosing who to trust with your treatment. The national organization website, www.gotoapro.org, is an excellent resource to further educate the consumer about the specialty of prosthodontics.