A prosthodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating complex dental and facial matters, including the restoration and replacement of missing or damaged teeth with artificial devices. They are highly trained in dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, jaw disorders, and more.
It’s estimated that every year in the United States, nearly 300,000 people receive dental implants. Most of these are assessed and positioned by their general dentist or a prosthodontist.
Prosthodontists also specialize in cosmetic dentistry, which has been on the rise over the last few years. Studies show that 25% of Americans say that their smile or teeth are the one facial feature they would change to boost their self-esteem. This type of dentist has a careful understanding of the dynamics of a smile and the preservation of a healthy mouth.
What Does a Prosthodontist Do?
Unlike general dentists, prosthodontists specialize in repairing natural teeth and replacing missing teeth. Missing and extracted (removed) teeth are replaced with artificial teeth (dentures), dental implants, caps, or crowns.. Specially trained prosthodontists also work with people with head and neck deformities, replacing missing parts of the jaw and face.
Education and Training
Prosthodontists have advanced training in the field of aesthetic restoration and replacement of teeth. This training involves completing three additional years of study after dental school and undergraduate school.
The process of becoming a prosthodontist involves completing:
- A bachelor’s degree
- Dental school
- The National Board Dental Examinations to become a licensed Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD)
- A three-year residency and education through an ADA-accredited (approved) prosthodontic graduate program
- An American Board of Prosthodontics certification exam
Reasons to See a Prosthodontist
There are various reasons why you would visit a prosthodontist. It could be due to an accident involving the mouth, a congenital (birth-related) condition, or simply cosmetic reasons. Although many traditional dentists can provide these services as well, prosthodontists are extensively trained in state-of-the-art techniques and procedures for treating complex dental conditions.
There are a number of services a prosthodontist specializes in, including:
Denture Implant Fit and Placement
Prosthodontists specialize in proper fit and placement of crowns, bridges, and removable or solid dentures. A prosthodontist will first assess the current condition of your gums and jawbone to determine the best size and shape, and then design one to those specifications.
Jaw, Sleep, or Snoring Issues
You should see a prosthodontist if you want to fix temporomandibular problems or disorders, as well as address sleep or snoring disorders.
The temporomandibular area of your body includes the muscles and joints around your jaw. Most people refer to issues concerning this area as TMJ. Many people suffer from problems with this area that become more noticeable while yawning, chewing, or sleeping. A prosthodontist can help you work through your problems by getting you the right treatment.
Traumatic Injury Repairs
Prosthodontists specialize in repairs from traumatic injuries to the mouth, teeth, and face.
Oral Cancer Reconstruction
Oral cancer may be treated with surgery to remove any cancerous growth. A prosthodontist can then perform oral cancer reconstruction surgery to address any cosmetic concerns.
What to Expect at the Prosthodontist
Prosthodontists are considered specialists and you may be referred to one from your general dentist. When you go to your appointment, expect the visit to be different from your routine dental appointments.
You are seeing this type of specialist to deal with an issue that is bothering you about the look or function of your teeth or mouth. Depending on the situation, there are a couple of things involved in the majority of the procedures they perform.
Dental History and Exam
Be prepared to discuss with your prosthodontist your dental history and anything that has affected the current condition of your teeth. They will listen to your concerns about any dental issues and perform a thorough examination. If you need a more complex procedure like dentures or dental implants, you can expect additional appointments and steps in the process.
The prosthodontist will first assess the current condition of your gums and jawbone. They will then determine the best size and shape of the implant, before designing one to those specifications.