Updated on February 7, 2024
3 min read

Prosthodontics

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Key Takeaways

  • Prosthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry focused on restoring and rehabilitating oral functions. It involves creating dental prosthetics like dentures and mouthguards.
  • Prosthodontists study for an additional three years after dental school to specialize in this field. They should have a board certification from the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP).
  • You should see a prosthodontist if you need dental restorations or have temporomandibular joint issues. Prosthodontists can perform procedures for dental implants, dentures, and veneers.

What is Prosthodontics?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes prosthodontics as a specialized branch of dentistry focused on dental restoration procedures. It involves designing and developing prosthetics for the mouth and jaw.

These dental prosthetics include:

  • Dentures
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Oral splints
  • Night guards or mouthguards

What Does a Prosthodontist Do?

A prosthodontist treats people who need artificial replacements in their mouth or jaw. They deal with complex cases that a general dentist can’t handle.

Prosthodontists have a bachelor’s degree in dentistry. Additionally, they must finish another 3 years of advanced training post-dental school. Some prosthodontists also earn a master’s degree during their residency. 

A prosthodontist trains extensively in:

They are typically members of the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP).

What Do Prosthodontists Treat?

Prosthodontists can treat facial or oral problems caused by:

  • Missing natural teeth
  • Abnormal jaw structures
  • Issues with maxillofacial tissues
  • Temporomandibular disorders

Prosthodontists have more advanced specialty training than regular dentists regarding restoring and replacing teeth. 

They can perform procedures like:

  • Dental implants
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Bridges

When Should You See a Prosthodontist?

You should consult a prosthodontist if you need extensive dental restorations. They should be consulted before surgery or treatment for complex, atypical, or extensive oral issues.

The following situations are when you should see a prosthodontist:

1. Full Mouth Reconstruction

A full mouth reconstruction is necessary when teeth have extensive damage. It involves rebuilding and replacing all the teeth in a person’s mouth to improve oral function.

A full mouth reconstruction can occur due to traumatic injuries or severe tooth decay. It can include treatments like:

2. Bone Grafts

A bone graft may be necessary if a person does not have enough bone in the jaw. During the procedure, a prosthodontist harvests bone tissue from other body parts. They will then insert it into the jawbone, providing a stable foundation for dental implants.

3. Dental Implants

Dental implants can restore one or more missing teeth. The entire treatment consists of two parts:

  1. Implant procedure ⁠— An oral surgeon will surgically place a titanium screw into your jawbone to act as an artificial tooth root. 
  2. Restoration procedure ⁠— A prosthodontist will place a crown, which looks and functions like a natural tooth.

4. Veneers

Dental veneers are custom-made, tooth-colored shells. They cover the front surfaces of teeth.

They can be made of dental composite resin or porcelain. People usually get this procedure for cosmetic reasons.

Veneers are permanent procedures. They can change the color, shape, and size of your teeth.

5. Smile Makeover

A smile makeover is a cosmetic dental procedure. It’s similar to a full mouth reconstruction in that it involves multiple treatments.

A smile makeover changes the entire appearance of the teeth when you smile. 

Examples of treatment for a smile makeover include:

  • Bleaching or teeth whitening
  • Aligning teeth
  • Cosmetic tooth bonding
  • Replacing missing teeth

6. TMJ Disorder Treatment

TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), requires treatment from a prosthodontist. People with TMD experience pain including:

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Discomfort when opening and closing the mouth

There are multiple treatment methods that a prosthodontist may recommend. These include: 

  • Arthrocentesis
  • Injection
  • TMJ arthroscopy
  • Modified condylotomy
  • Open-joint surgery

Last updated on February 7, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Prosthodontists have gained the expertise they need to learn state-of-the-art techniques needed for treating complex dental conditions.” American College of Prosthodontists.
  2. Kaur, H., Kusum, D. “Prosthodontic management of temporomandibular disorders.” Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society, 2013.
  3. Board Certification.” American College of Prosthodontists.
  4. Alothman, Y., Bamasoud, M. “The Success of Dental Veneers According To Preparation Design and Material Type.” Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2018.
  5. Full Mouth Reconstruction.” American College of Prosthodontists.
  6. Kumar et al. “Bone grafts in Dentistry.” Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, 2013.
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