Prosthodontists are certified (official) dental specialists in fixing or replacing teeth.
That’s what prosthodontics means – fixing or replacing teeth with prosthetic dental substitutes (such as dental implants, dentures, crowns, bridges, etc.).
In this article, we’ll look at:
- What’s the difference between a Prosthodontist and a General Dentist?
- Who is a Prosthodontist at this office?
- What exactly does a Prosthodontist do?
- Why would you want to consider seeing a Prosthodontist?
What’s the difference between a Prosthodontist and a General Dentist?
Prosthodontists are official dental specialists. They went to dental school like general dentists. But then they attend 2 to 3 more years of specialized training in a specific area of dentistry.
Prosthodontists, are certified specialists that receive two to three years of additional training after receiving their dental degree in a program accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) based either at a hospital or a university. The training requires, lectures, treatment of patients with more complex treatments and/or a more in-depth knowledge of the care they provide as well as research and publications in the field.
The ADA recognizes 9 dental specialties, which includes some you may have heard of:
- Prosthodontics / prosthetic dentistry (prosthodontist)
- Orthodontics (orthodontist)
- Endodontics (endodontist)
- Periodontics (periodontist)
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (oral surgeon)
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- Pedodontics / Pediatric Dentistry (kids dentist)
- Dental Public Health
These dental specialists first received their Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree (DDS) or their Doctorate of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) — both mean that they went through dental school. But then these dental specialists did a second, post-graduate residency program at a dental school or hospital, in order to further specialize in a specific area of dentistry.
Prosthodontists are officially recognized for practicing the specialty of prosthodontics (prosthetic dentistry). General dentists can do some prosthetic dentistry, but they may not have had as much training or experience in the most advanced treatments.
For example, a lot of dentists call themselves “cosmetic dentists” but this isn’t a real specialty. It may be an area of focus, even skill. But it’s not official. It doesn’t mean they’ve received extra training and have more experience in that area of focus, beyond their general dentistry training in dental school.
Prosthodontists received extensive training and experience dental esthetics (including cosmetic dentistry) during their post-graduate residency program. They also received advanced training for dental implants and reconstructive dentistry. This is why they are often referred patients from general dentists (and other specialists) because they are able to perform a wide variety of comprehensive prosthetic dental treatments.
Hopefully you can now see that Prosthodontists are advanced dental practitioners who have the skill of restoring teeth to be optimal-working and natural-looking. And because they see many more patients a year with the specific focus of restoring the function and esthetics, they continue to stay on the forefront of the most experience dental practitioners for prosthetic dentistry.
Who is a Prosthodontist at this office?
All of the dentists at NC Prosthodontic Specialists are Prosthodontists, each having obtained official certification in prosthodontics (from UNC-Chapel Hill, the premier prosthodontic residency in the country). When it comes down to it, this official designation isn’t about them looking good. It’s about you! They went through all this extra training and experience, to be able to help you have a beautiful smile and eat whatever you want, so you can live your best life!
What exactly does a Prosthodontist do?
With everything said above, what actually goes on during a prosthodontic treatment?
They create a thorough evaluation of your teeth and mouth, and have a better understanding of how your teeth not only look but also how they work together to give you a correct bite, so your teeth don’t just look great but also don’t cause you pain.
This involves advanced technology and often a dental lab.
Some people like to view a Prosthodontist as the “architect” because they define how a person’s teeth should look and work, but then they work with “builders” like general dentists, other specialists, and a dental lab to “construct” your perfect smile.
Another analogy is a “quarterback” where Prosthodontists manage a treatment, and they often work as a “team” with other dentists. Prosthodontists commonly partner or are referred by other dental fields such as, Periodontists, Oral Surgeons, Endodontists, Orthodontists, Pediatric dentists, also by General Dentists when determining the best course of treatment for the patient.
Why would you want to consider seeing a Prosthodontist?
Because Prosthodontists are specialists, you’re more likely to get the result you want.
Prosthodontists are trained and experienced experts in dental rehabilitation, having mastered the art of natural-looking, well-fitted teeth including: crowns, bridges, veneers, removable partial dentures, fixed dentures, and dental implants.
Prosthodontists have also received advanced training in Temporomandibular disorder, better known as TMJ, traumatic injured to the mouth’s structures, and congenital or birth anomalies to teeth.
Prosthodontists can also fabricate oral appliances that better assist with snoring from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, can give you teeth after oral cancer reconstruction, and can help you if you have broken a dental prosthetic device (or want one that looks better or is more comfortable).