A prosthodontist is a dental care professional who specializes in tooth restoration. Prosthodontists specialize in fixing issues related to jaw problems and tooth loss. You may see a prosthodontist if you need dentures or if you require a prosthetic tooth to replace one that has gone missing.
Prosthodontists handle both the function and overall appearance of the teeth and gums. In addition to fixing dental issues to ensure that you have an even, functional bite, these specialists also strive to make your teeth as attractive and natural-looking as possible.
Are Prosthodontists Different Than Dentists?
While prosthodontists and dentists both work with teeth and oral health, they are different. Prosthodontists are trained in and focus on specific areas of dentistry, while dentists are in charge of the basics that are required for maintaining a healthy smile. Your dentist may complete cavity repairs (fillings), tooth extractions, and other general tasks.
A dentist may refer you to a prosthodontist if they feel that your teeth require work that goes beyond their scope of expertise.
In short, a prosthodontist is a dentist who has undergone extra training and has the experience and knowledge to offer specialized care in a certain area of dentistry.
Prosthodontist Education Requirements
Prosthodontists complete four years of dental school to achieve a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) certification. At this stage, the individual can practice work as a general dentist
After earning one of these degrees, the aspiring prosthodontist then completes an additional three years of school at an accredited institution, leaving with the proper educational requirements to work as a dental specialist.
What Do Prosthodontists Treat?
Prosthodontists have the knowledge to treat a wide variety of issues, most of which involve the correction and replacement of missing teeth. A prosthodontist may also assist with snoring disorders, sleep apnea, and cleft palates, as well as oral injury treatment. Sometimes, a prosthodontist will work in a team setting with other dental professionals but in most cases, they work alone.
If you’ve fallen victim to dental trauma or severe tooth decay resulting in loss, you’ll likely be sent to a prosthodontist to restore the function and appearance of the affected teeth. If you’ve ever had a root canal and needed a crown afterward, it was a prosthodontist that applied the crown.
In addition, anyone who receives veneers also saw a prosthodontist.
Alongside all the traditional work that a prosthodontist does, they may also work to change the shape of the teeth. This is done by using bonding agents, which can be applied to fill small gaps between the teeth, reshape a tooth, or alter the appearance of the teeth in some other cosmetic way.
If you’re missing a large portion of or all of your teeth, you’ll likely be referred to a prosthodontist to receive a pair of dentures. Dentures can fit into the mouth in a number of ways, so your prosthodontist will work with you to find a denture solution that makes you happy.
Dentures are designed to look real and fit comfortably. They should not cause pain or discomfort, which is something that your prosthodontist should go over with you.
Implants and Bridges
If you’re missing one or more teeth beside each other, a prosthodontist may choose to use a bridge as a treatment option. A bridge is when one or more crowns are linked together, creating a single unit that is easier to apply. The bridge is fixed to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap needing to be fixed.
To see the best results from a bridge, it’s important to follow the care instructions given to you by your prosthodontist.
While bridges are a tried-and-true method of tooth replacement, implants have largely taken over. Your prosthodontist will create a personalized implant that fits the shape of your teeth and mouth — the implant will consist of a titanium post and a false tooth. The titanium post is fused to your jaw bone, creating a lifelike and very stable false tooth that’s nearly impossible to tell apart from your real teeth.
The prosthodontist will design the false teeth, but a surgical specialist may conduct the actual surgery.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) is an incredibly painful issue. It arises when the nerves of the jaw joint become inflamed. Patients with the most severe TMJ issues are almost always referred to a prosthodontist to find a solution for pain reduction and elimination.
Many will suggest bite guards to lessen the pressure put on the joints. They may also recommend physical therapy or prescription medication to help you manage the pain.
Prosthodontists, while similar to dentists, are not the same thing. Both are essential in the dentistry field, but only prosthodontists can create and apply implants and dentures and treat complex issues.