What exactly IS a Prosthodontist?
The American Dental Association recognizes twelve dental specialties in dentistry: One of them is Prosthodontics. Here is a brief guide about what Prosthodontists do as specialists that restore and replace missing teeth.
According to the ADA’s website, Prosthodontics is “the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes”.
When we talk about Prosthodontists, we refer to an expert who manages dental treatments involving prostheses or restorations.
What Does a Prosthodontist Do?
The term “prostho” means replacement, and “dontist” means dealing with teeth. Prosthodontists specialize in treating and handling dental and facial problems that involve restoring and replacing missing teeth with prosthetic devices.
Basically, a Prosthodontist is highly trained in the placement of dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, and veneers, among other treatments.
What is the Difference Between a Prosthodontist and a General Dentist?
People sometimes are often unclear about the difference between a general dentist and a Prosthodontist. The truth is, that while they both perform many of the same procedures, there is quite a difference in their training.
The main difference is that Prosthodontists have 3 additional years of advanced professional training in the area of dentistry focused on restoring and replacing teeth, and they treat more complex cases than general dentist. General dentists handle all types of routine dental care and minor dental procedures, like tooth decay, broken or chipped teeth, dental fillings, cleanings general checkups, though they also place crowns, bridges and dentures.
Because they have completed four years of dental school and then continued studying for at least three additional years of advanced training and education in an ADA-accredited program, Prosthodontists look at the mouth in a more integrated, systemic way. They tend to handle more complex cases. General dentists tend to refer to Prosthodontist the cases they can’t or won’t do.
Consulting with and being treated by a Prosthodontist guarantees that you will receive the highest quality treatment that provides long-term solutions for both function and appearance when you need tooth replacement or restorations.
What Does a Prosthodontist Specialize In?
Prosthodontists are often referred to as the “architects” in dentistry. They are THE experts when teeth need to be replaced or restored.
Prosthodontists are highly skilled in prosthetic restorations. Their job is to design, manufacture and fit any and all types of prosthetic restorations for patients with damaged or missing teeth.
Prosthodontic dentistry generally deals with severe dental cases like jaw surgery, partial dentures, full dentures, implants, and cases requiring several multiple types of treatment within the same mouth. They often “quarterback:” treatment with multiple specialists involved. They are the specialists specifically trained to diagnose and treatment plan patients with advanced restorative needs. They also can provide their patients with fillings, dentures, crowns, veneers, implants, bridges, bonding, tooth whitening, splints, night guards, and cosmetic procedures. Depending on the needs of a patient, a Prosthodontist can replace or restore everything ranging from a single tooth, to multiple teeth, or even an entire dentition.
Prosthodontists have the expertise to restore a patient’s mouth in the most functional and aesthetic way. They not only deal with those general routine procedures, but also with more complex restorative procedures.
Some of the Most Common Procedures Performed by Prosthodontists Are:
Dental implants are titanium posts implanted into your jawbone that replace the tooth roots of missing teeth. These titanium posts provide support for prosthetic teeth (crowns, bridges, etc). The new teeth placed on the implants will look, feel and function like natural teeth.
Crowns (sometimes referred to as “caps”) can be placed on a natural tooth or on an implant. There are several kinds of crowns. They can be made of gold, porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, zirconium, or lithium disilicate.
Where there are teeth missing, a bridge can be made to replace the missing teeth and restore the bite back to its normal function. This requires crowning the teeth in front of and behind the missing tooth/teeth. These teeth are filed down, and a bridge comprised of the two crowns on the teeth adjacent to the gap, and a “pontic” (or false) tooth is “bridged” between them.
A porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that adheres to the front surface of a tooth. These provide a natural and beautiful look. While many people get them for cosmetic reasons, they can also be used for restorative purposes, too.
These are acrylic based prostheses that rest on the gums when a full or partial set of teeth are missing. They can be partial or full, and removable or fixed (with implants).
As the name implies, full mouth reconstruction refers to the rebuilding and/or replacing ALL of the teeth in a patient’s mouth. It combines esthetics with the art and science of restorative dentistry (prosthodontics) to improve your health, and the function and the esthetics of your mouth. Oftentimes, this type of treatment involves multiple methods of treatment, addressing the needs of each tooth and section of the mouth individually, sometimes combing crowns, implants, bridges, veneers, fillings etc.
Unlike the option mentioned above, which RECONSTRUCTS the remaining dentition and replaces some missing teeth, full mouth replacement replaces all of the teeth. This is done either when someone has already lost all of their teeth or when they need to have them all removed. Although traditional dentures can replace a full set of teeth, more often, patients choose to have dental implants placed to support the prosthetic option they decide on, whether that be implant-supported dentures or implant bridges.
Prosthodontics vs. Cosmetic Dentistry: What’s the Difference?
According to the ADA, cosmetic dentistry isn’t a recognized specialty. Rather, it’s an approach to treatment that considers both the appearance and function of the dental work you need.
Many general dentists who want to do a lot of cosmetic treatments take training courses on cosmetic dentistry provided by a variety of organizations.
Prosthodontists, on the other hand, receive formal training on cosmetic dentistry in their specialty training program. As a result, they will focus on the “cosmetic” aspect of the treatment, since it is an essential part of their job.
Another part of their job is to see that the artificial parts they use, match perfectly with the environment in which they are used, while remaining both functional and comfortable for the patient.
A good restoration will not only make your teeth function well. It will also make your teeth look natural in shape, size and color, giving you a beautiful, natural-looking smile.
So, Prosthodontists can perform general, cosmetic and prosthodontic (restorative/reconstructive) procedures in the most accurate and precise way due to their specialized training.
When should You See a Prosthodontist?
You should see a Prosthodontist when:
- You have missing teeth or damaged teeth
- You need to replace old worn-out restorations
- You need implants
- You need to repair or maintain any existing prostheses
- You want to renew your smile
- You want to restore your mouth or bite to be properly functional
- When you have other complex dental conditions as a result of cancer treatments, injuries or birth defects.
Benefits of Seeing a Prosthodontist
- A Prosthodontist knows exactly how to deal with the replacement and restoration of missing teeth. They also have the knowledge to make them look perfectly natural.
- Choosing a Prosthodontist as your dental care provider is a benefit since many Prosthodontists also provide general dentistry services like checkups and cleanings. By selecting one of these doctors as your primary oral healthcare provider, you can be relaxed and sure that you have a solid relationship with a reliable specialist in case you require more advanced services.
- A Prosthodontist knows exactly how to make your teeth get their usual normal functions. Your teeth not only need to look good, but function well. That’s why aligning the bite is so important, something that usually only Prosthodontists can perform.
- When you entrust your care to someone with advanced training, you increase the likelihood that your treatment will go smoothly and without complications from start to finish.
- With improved gums, bite and smile, you’ll chew better, enjoy your meals more and look amazing.
If you are dealing with damaged or missing teeth, if you need to restore the function of your mouth or your bite, or if you need any kind of mouth reconstruction, your best option is always to see a Prosthodontist. Because of their advanced training and expertise, they are the specialists who will best be able to manage your oral care.
If you have damaged or missing teeth, don’t you owe it to yourself to see a specialist?
Dr. McFadden is double board-certified in Prosthodontics and Implant dentistry, a distinction held by less than 20 dentists in the US.
If you’d like a complimentary consultation with Dr. McFadden, call us at 214-956-9100. He’ll be happy to help you find the solution that best fits you esthetically, functionally and financially.