When choosing a dentist, doesn’t it make sense to go to someone whose qualifications have been tested and verified beyond that 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.

    The American Dental Association recognizes twelve dental specialties in dentistry: One of them is Prosthodontics. 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”.Here is a brief guide about what Prosthodontists do as specialists that restore and replace missing teeth.

    This specialty is crucial for patients who have suffered from a variety of dental issues and in need of dental prosthetics, whether it be a single crown, a bridge, dental implants, or a full mouth rehabilitation or reconstruction.

    Definition and Role of a Prosthodontist

    To become a prosthodontist, after finishing dental school, they must complete 3 additional years of advanced education, focused on all aspects of prosthodontic treatment. This training is full-time, in a program accredited by the American Dental Association. This specialty training provides extensive experience in the diagnosing, treatment planning, and executing treatments to restore optimal function and aesthetics to a patient’s smile. These treatments include 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.

    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.

    Importance of Prosthodontics in Dental Care

    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.

    Prosthodontists are instrumental in ensuring that patients can chew properly, speak clearly, and have a smile they feel confident about, which significantly contributes to their overall health and quality of life.

    Areas of Expertise

    Prosthodontists specialize in a full range of complex dental and facial issues, including fixed prosthodontics (crowns, bridges), removable prosthodontics (dentures and partials), implant prosthodontics (dental implants), maxillofacial prosthetics (reconstruction for facial defects), and cosmetic/aesthetic dentistry.

    A prosthodontist is the only dentist formally educated in the complete system of oral rehabilitation.

    A prosthodontist is well versed in replacing missing teeth by using crownsbridgesimplantsextractionspartial and full dentures.

    An additional layer of verification of their knowledge and skills is the Board Certification process. (Not all Prosthodontists get Board-Certified. In fact, only about 1 in 3 is, and 55% of them are either in the military or in education).

    Board Certification requires candidates to demonstrate the highest integration of both clinical and didactic knowledge through a written exam. Additionally, a series of oral exams is given, and multiple treatment types presented before a panel of 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.

    Benefits of Prosthodontic Treatment

    It improves oral function, enabling patients to eat and speak without difficulty. Aesthetically, it enhances facial features and smile, boosting self-esteem and social interaction. It also contributes to overall dental health by preventing remaining teeth from shifting and reducing the risks of periodontal disease and tooth wear.

    Some of the Most Common Procedures Performed by Prosthodontists Are:

    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, dental implants”·   IMPLANTS

    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.


    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, crowns"·   CROWNS

    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.


    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, bridges"·   BRIDGES

    Where there are teeth missing, a bridge can 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.



    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, porcelain veneers"·   VENEERS

    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.


    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, dentures and partials"·   DENTURES/PARTIAL DENTURES

    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).



    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, full-mouth reconstructions"·   FULL MOUTH RECONS RECONSTRUCTION

    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.




    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, full mouth tooth replacement"·   FULL MOUTH REPLACEMENT

    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.



    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 dentists. 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.

    When should You See a Prosthodontist?

    You should see a Prosthodontist when:

    • You have missing teethor 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 othercomplex dental conditions as a result of cancer treatments, injuries or birth defects.

    Finding a Qualified Prosthodontist

    When seeking a prosthodontist, it is crucial to consider their education, certification, experience, and the technology they employ. Patient reviews, professional affiliations, and consultation experiences also serve as valuable indicators of their expertise.

    To find a qualified prosthodontist, start by checking with the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP). The ACP maintains a directory of members who are board-certified and have met rigorous standards in this field.

    1. Education and Certification: Verify that the prosthodontist has a degree from an accredited dental school and has completed a postgraduate program in prosthodontics. Certification by the American Board of Prosthodontics (Diplomate status) is a significant credential, indicating that the specialist has passed rigorous examinations and adheres to high standards of practice in prosthodontics.
    2. Experience and Expertise: Experience plays a critical role in the proficiency of a prosthodontist. Inquire about the number of years they have been practicing and the types of procedures they frequently perform. Some prosthodontists may specialize further in areas like implantology, maxillofacial prosthodontics, or cosmetic dentistry. Choosing a specialist whose expertise aligns with your specific needs is essential.
    3. Technology and Techniques: Prosthodontics has seen significant advancements in technology and techniques. A qualified prosthodontist should be adept in using modern technology such as digital dentistry, 3D imaging, and advanced materials for prosthetics. These technologies contribute to more accurate diagnoses, better treatment planning, and improved outcomes for patients.
    4. Patient Reviews and Testimonials: Patient reviews can provide valuable insight into the prosthodontist’s skill, bedside manner, and the quality of their work. Look for reviews on independent websites or ask for testimonials from the clinic. Pay attention to comments about the patients’ satisfaction with their treatments, the prosthodontist’s communication skills, and the overall experience at the clinic.
    5. Consultation and Communication: A consultation appointment can be a crucial step in selecting the right prosthodontist. This meeting allows you to discuss your concerns, understand potential treatment options, and evaluate the prosthodontist’s approach to patient care and get a feel for their chairside manner and communication. Effective communication and a clear explanation of treatment plans are indicative of a prosthodontist committed to patient education and comfort.
    6. Professional Affiliations: Membership in professional organizations, such as the American College of Prosthodontists, American Board of Prosthodontics, or the American Board of Oral Implantology indicates a commitment to staying updated with the latest developments in the field. These affiliations often require continuing education, ensuring that the prosthodontist remains knowledgeable about the most recent advancements in prosthodontic care.
    7. Before and After Gallery: Many prosthodontists maintain a gallery of before and after photos of their patients. These images can provide a visual representation of the prosthodontist’s skill and the types of cases they have successfully treated.
    8. Cost Considerations: Understanding the costs involved and whether your insurance covers prosthodontic procedures is vital. A qualified prosthodontist should provide transparent information about the costs and adhere to a given fee, once agreed on and treatment has begun.
    9. Insurance Considerations: Dental insurance may cover a portion of the cost associated with your treatment. Our office is happy to assist with insurance claim submission and financing options, if needed.
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    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.

    “Procedures done by prosthodontists, smile makeover, before, crooked, yellow, damages, after, white, symmetrical and perfect"

    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 15 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.

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