What are prosthodontics? Have a particularly complex cosmetic dentistry case? Want your work done by a professional that has received the highest level of training possible? If your answer is yes, then a prosthodontist may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Only Cosmetic Specialty Recognized By the ADA
Prosthodontics is an officially recognized dental specialty that specializes in the esthetic restoration and replacement of teeth. It is the only specialty related to cosmetic dentistry procedures that is recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).
That is an important distinction because, as we’ve mentioned in other places on this site, any dentist that offers treatments ranging from teeth whitening to implants can call themselves a cosmetic dentist. Some dentists can perform reconstructive dental work after completing a weekend course for a procedure. And, for some treatments, that may be fine.
However, to become a prosthodontist requires an extra 2 – 4 years of advanced training at an ADA approved program after finishing dental school. This training ensures a prosthodontist is highly proficient in a number of cosmetic dentistry procedures. These include dental implants, veneers, dentures, crowns, and bridges. Prosthodontists are also skilled in treating temporomandibular disorders (TMJ/TMD), congenital disorders and sleep apnea. Often this is accomplished by planning and fabricating various prostheses.
The Experts in Restoration and Replacement of Teeth
Because of their advanced education and training, prosthodontists are generally considered to be THE experts in the restoration and replacement of teeth and are best suited to handle the most complex cases. This includes repairing past treatments that have failed and have negatively impacted the mouth and smile.
Prothodontists are referred to by many as the “quarterbacks” of your dental treatment plan. With their specialized expertise, they will often work with general dentists, periodontists, endodontists, oral surgeons and orthodontists to come up with a custom game plan for your specific dental needs.
Maxillofacial Prosthetics Sub-Specialty
There is a sub-specialty of Prosthodontics knows as maxillofacial prosthetics (or Oral and Maxillofacial Prosthodontics). Going into this sub-specialty requires an extra year of fellowship training which will include oral surgical and prosthodontic treatments. These specialists are trained to treat patients with congenital defects of the head and neck region due to trauma, surgery, cancer and/or birth defects.
Removable vs. Fixed Prosthodontics
In addition to maxillofacial Prosthodontics, there are two other branches of the field. One is removable prosthodontics which focuses on replacing missing teeth with a removable prosthesis. This is a good option to replace missing teeth for patients who don’t want a fixed or permanent solution, serve as a temporary solution for kids who have missing teeth due to injury or trauma, or to replace several teeth in the same quadrant of the mouth.
The other branch is fixed prosthodontics which focuses on using a permanently attached, or fixed, dental prosthesis. These restorations can include crowns, bridges (fixed dentures), inlays, onlays and veneers. Unlike a removable prosthesis, which patients can remove and insert themselves, only a dentist can place and remove a fixed prosthesis.
Costs for prosthodontic care vary tremendously based on what specific procedures you need. The costs to have a prosthodontist perform the procedure, however, are generally in line with what “cosmetic dentist” would charge for the same procedure.