What is a Prosthodontist

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What is a Prosthodontist

Prosthodontics is the dental specialty primarily concerned with the restoration and replacement of lost or damaged teeth. Sometimes called the “architects of the smile,” Prosthodontists are highly trained specialists with a unique understanding of all the elements that go into a beautiful, functional and natural-looking smile—not just the teeth, but also the gums, lips, and facial features. When it comes to planning and carrying out a full-scale smile makeover, a team of dental professionals is often required; many times, that team is captained by a prosthodontist.

What qualifies a prosthodontist to take on this role?

After graduating from college and completing the regular four years of dental school, prosthodontists receive an additional three years of advanced training at a graduate program accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). Prosthodontists combine this specialized education with countless hours of clinical experience and can bring their skills to bear on simple or complex restorations. They are one of the nine ADA-recognized dental specialties.

What Do Prosthodontists Do?

As their name implies (“prosthesis” = addition or attachment, “odont” = tooth), these specialists plan and carry out procedures related to the replacement of natural teeth, in part or in full, with biocompatible substitutes. Some of these treatments include:

  • Porcelain Veneers — wafer-thin shells of ceramic material that cover the front surfaces of teeth, providing a dramatic change in appearance. These are bonded to teeth that have been prepared by having a small amount of enamel removed, so they don’t appear too bulky. Long-lasting veneers can change the size, shape or color of teeth, and even close small gaps between.
  • Crowns — artificial covers (sometimes called “caps”) that replace the entire visible surface of a tooth above the gum line. Fabricated of metal, porcelain fused to metal, or all-ceramic (porcelain), crowns are cemented to a prepared tooth with intact roots. They are often needed after a root canal procedure, or to repair fractured, broken or misshapen teeth.
  • Dental implant — when it’s necessary to replace an entire tooth (both roots and crown), this method is considered today’s gold standard. Implants consist of a titanium metal post which is implanted in the jaw in a minor surgical procedure. This screw-like post becomes fused with the jaw bone, providing a solid anchorage for a lifelike crown. Implants can be used to replace single or multiple teeth or to support other types of dental restorations, such as dental bridges or dentures. While implant surgery is usually performed by other specialists, prosthodontists often design and place the implant crowns. Implants are initially the most costly tooth replacement method but may prove an excellent value in the long run, as they can last a lifetime.
  • Fixed Bridges — this tooth-replacement method uses the existing, healthy teeth (called abutment teeth) on either side of a gap to support one or more artificial teeth. A series of linked crowns are fabricated as a single unit, which is then attached to the prepared abutment teeth. These work like a roadway-bridge foundation to hold up the crowns for the missing teeth in between. Bridges are a time-tested tooth-replacement method but require special attention to cleaning, and potentially compromise the structure of the otherwise healthy abutment teeth.
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Prosthodontic Treatments

Prosthodontic treatments are designed to produce a balance between functionality, longevity, and aesthetics. Prosthodontic treatments include the following:

Restoring damaged teeth

Damage to the teeth can occur during the development of teeth or cause by caries, failing restorations, trauma, teeth grinding, exposure of teeth to acid (diet or disease) or reduction of salivary flow. Prosthodontists provide services such as fillings, veneers, and crowns to address each patient’s concerns. The complexity of every dental condition is variable and could range from minor intervention to comprehensive treatment.

Replacing missing teeth

Prosthodontists offer their patients a wide range of options to replace missing teeth depending on each patient’s needs. Whether a patient is a candidate for complete dentures, a removable partial denture, dental implants, a fixed bridge or combination of treatment alternatives, Prosthodontists are well-educated to provide high-quality care. These specialists have an excellent understanding of dental laboratory procedures, and they work closely with dental technicians to ensure that each custom-made prosthesis is attractive and comfortable for the patient.

Oral implants

One of the remarkable advances in dentistry today – oral implants – is directly related to the services Prosthodontists provide. Canadian Prosthodontists have been pioneers and instrumental in fostering these advances. They have been in the vanguard of research over the last thirty years concerning the effectiveness of dental implants. As a possible alternative to conventional tooth replacement options, dental implants offer patients wonderful advantages. This biotechnology is rapidly becoming the state of the art treatment option among patients who are missing all or some of their teeth.

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The Benefits of Going to a “PRO”

Did you know that some dentists perform reconstructive dental work after just a weekend course on a procedure? That may be okay, but you should know prosthodontists receive an extra three years of intense, formal training beyond regular dental school.

If you are seeking cosmetic or reconstructive dental work, you should do research before making a decision in order to ensure proper care. As ADA recognized specialists, prosthodontists are qualified to offer care in state-of-the-art procedures and techniques, such as:

  • Dental implants
  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Complex care management involving multiple specialists
  • Complete and removable partial dentures
  • Replacing lost teeth
  • Special needs of geriatric patients
  • Children born with a cleft palate or missing teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome/disorder
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Snoring and sleep disorders
  • Maxillofacial prosthetic procedures such as oral cancer reconstruction and continuing care

How Prosthodontists Differ From Dentists

Prosthodontists focus on highly specific areas of dentistry and restoration, while dentists do all the basics associated with keeping your teeth functional and healthy. A dentist will often refer you to a prosthodontist for work that’s outside general dentistry. Think of the distinction the way you imagine the difference between your family doctor and an orthopedist.

Prosthodontists Bridges and Implants

If you’ve lost one or more teeth, a prosthodontist might choose a bridge as the best tooth replacement method for your case. A bridge is one or more crowns linked together to create a single unit. This bridge then gets fixed to the healthy teeth on either side of the gap. The appearance is that of healthy teeth with no gaps or missing teeth. Keep in mind that with bridges, you need to follow special care instructions and have them cleaned regularly.

Implants have replaced bridges as the popular and preferred method for dealing with missing teeth. A prosthodontist will create a dental implant for you which consists of a titanium post and a false tooth. The prosthodontist might hand off the actual surgical procedure to another specialist, but the prosthodontist is the one who designs the implant for you. The titanium post is fused with your jaw bone, which creates a stable and lifelike false tooth that’s difficult to tell apart from your other teeth.

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Rigorous training and experience provide prosthodontists with a special understanding of the dynamics of a smile, the preservation of a healthy mouth, and the creation of tooth replacement

Average Pay and Pay Range of Prosthodontists

As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that prosthodontists earned an average of $80.83 an hour and $168,120 a year. Half of the prosthodontists reported annual salaries of $169,130 or more, and at least 25 percent of prosthodontists made more than $187,199 a year. The lowest-paid 25 percent of prosthodontists earned $85,560 or less per year.

Employment Outlook

The BLS estimates that about 1,000 prosthodontists were practicing in the United States as of 2010. Through 2020, the bureau expects this number to increase by about 200. This represents a job growth rate of about 21 percent, faster than the average 14-percent growth rate predicted for all occupations in the United States. According to Forbes magazine, the nation has a shortage of prosthodontists as well as schools to train them. Aspiring prosthodontists should expect strong competition to get into dental school, but those who gain entrance and complete degrees should find employment.

Prosthodontists: An Overview

Prosthodontists is a field of dental care that specializes in restoration. Specifically, a prosthodontist works with fixing issues that have to do with tooth loss or jaw problems. You would see a prosthodontist if you needed dentures or were having a prosthetic tooth inserted into a spot where you lost a tooth.

Prosthodontists deal with both the appearance and the function of your teeth and gums. Along with fixing dental problems so that you have a functional bite, prosthodontists also work to ensure that your teeth look good.

Prosthodontists often work closely with dental laboratories, where highly skilled technicians create lifelike restorations from durable, high-tech materials. They can help ensure that you get well-crafted replacement teeth that will blend into a perfect smile.

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