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Updated on October 3, 2022

Prosthodontics

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What is Prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in replacing teeth and other parts of the mouth and face. It’s one of the dental specialties duly recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Prosthodontics involves designing, developing, replacing, and restoring dental and oral functions. It also involves the rehabilitation and maintenance of artificial replacements. 

What Does a Prosthodontist Do?

A person who specializes in prosthodontics is called a prosthodontist. They treat and diagnose people who need artificial replacements in their mouth or jaw. They also deal with complex cases that a general dentist can’t handle. 

General dentists can do routine teeth placements. But prosthodontists are experts in these procedures. They also specialize in treating more sensitive and complex dental conditions. 

Education & Training 

Prosthodontists have a bachelor’s degree in dentistry. Additionally, they must finish another 3 years of advanced training post-dental school.

A prosthodontist trains extensively in: 

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

How Do Prosthodontists Differ From Other Dentists?

Generally speaking, a prosthodontist has more advanced specialty training than a regular dentist. They have expertise in replacing any part of the mouth. They are also considered experts in restoring and replacing teeth. 

A prosthodontist also treats and manages:

  • Dental implants
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Temporomandibular disorders

Dentists focus mainly on dental care. Prosthodontists primarily conduct cosmetic surgery in the mouth. 

Prosthodontists also treat facial problems caused by: 

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

They spend 2 to 3 additional years post-graduation for rigorous training on sensitive oral issues. They are also trained to restore the function of a healthy mouth. 

Some prosthodontists also earn a master's degree during their residency. 

6 Reasons to See a Prosthodontist

A person should consult a prosthodontist if they need extensive dental restorations. This can help create optimal oral health and treat certain clinical conditions in the mouth.

Prosthodontists are experts in complex restoration or replacement. They should be consulted before surgery or treatment for any complex, atypical, or extensive oral issues.  

Here are the procedures and treatments only certified prosthodontics can do:

1. Full Mouth Reconstruction

Full mouth reconstruction is necessary when teeth have extensive damage. Causes are traumatic injuries and/or decay. It involves the rebuilding or replacing of teeth in a person’s mouth. 

Full mouth reconstruction often includes different treatments such as:

It improves the function of the entire mouth.

2. Bone Grafts

In a bone grafting procedure, the prosthodontist will harvest bone tissue from other body parts. They will then insert it into the jawbone. This provides a stable foundation for dental implants.  

3. Dental Implants

Dental implants restore one or more missing teeth. Treatment planning consists of two parts:

  1. First is the implant itself. A piece of titanium is surgically placed and will act as an artificial root. 
  2. The second part involves the restoration. The prosthodontist will place a crown on the titanium, which serves as the artificial tooth.

4. Porcelain Veneers

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

People usually opt for this procedure to improve aesthetics. Veneers can change the color, shape, and size of teeth. They are permanent solutions.

5. Smile Makeover

A smile makeover is a cosmetic dental procedure. It’s similar to 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, or discomfort when opening and closing the mouth.

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

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

Summary

  • Prosthodontists are trained to restore the optimal function of the mouth in the most efficient ways possible. 
  • A legitimate prosthodontist should have a board certification from the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP). The certificate should be renewed every eight years. This is to ensure their capability and updated field knowledge.  
  • Choose a prosthodontist for sensitive dental cases. They spend additional years training and learning the specifics of prosthodontics. 
  • Prosthodontists have gained the expertise to learn state-of-the-art techniques necessary for treating complex dental conditions. 
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on October 3, 2022
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, and Kusum, D. “Prosthodontic management of temporomandibular disorders.” Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society vol. 13,4 : 400-5.
  3. "Board Certification." American College of Prosthodontists.
  4. Alothman, Y. and Bamasoud, M. “The Success of Dental Veneers According To Preparation Design and Material Type.” Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences vol. 6,12 2402-2408. 14 Dec. 2018.
  5. "Full Mouth Reconstruction." American College of Prosthodontists.
  6. Kumar, Prasanna et al. “Bone grafts in Dentistry.” Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences vol. 5, Suppl 1 : S125-7.
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