What is Prosthodontics?
Prosthodontics is an area of Denistry which focuses on the intraoral artificial device to restore or reconstruct defects in the mouth including missing teeth, their parts, or soft and hard structures of the jaw and palate.
It is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association along with Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, and Periodontics.
What is a Prosthodontist?
A Prosthodontist is a dental professional who diagnose, treats, rehabilitates, and maintains the oral function, appearance, comfort, and health of the mouth through the replacement of missing or deficient teeth or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.
How can I become a Prosthodontist?
Like in other dental specialties, additional education and training are needed to practice as a prosthodontist.
- Bachelor's Degree. All aspiring dentists must complete a bachelor's degree prior their entrance to a dental school. Although there is no specified major required by dental schools, majoring in science like biology will provide an advantage in dental school. Moreover, some dental schools will require certain undergraduate science classes to be taken such as biology, psychology, physics, and English.
- Dental Admission Test. Before applying to a dental school, students who are interested to go into Dentistry must take and pass the Dental Admission Test.
- Dental School. After completing a bachelor's degree and successfully passing the Dental Admission Test, the next step will be completing a four-year program to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine. Students in dental school take subjects in dental anatomy, craniofacial biology, epidemiology, among others.
- Licensure. To legally practice as a dentist, you must pass the National Board Dental Examinations. Each state requires a license for dentists who intend to practice Dentistry. Moreover, each state may require different requirements.
- Residency. If you wish to specialize in Prosthodontics, you need to complete a three-year post-doctoral residency program in Prosthodontics. Through this residency, you will be get hands-on experience and learn clinical and technical skills which focus on the restoration of the oral biology and the creation of oral prosthetic devices.
- Certification. After years of education and training, a certification by the American Board of Prosthodontics will be taken for professional distinction.
What does a Prosthodontist do?
A prosthodontist is expected to perform procedures and treatments that will restore or replace the missing features of the oral cavity such as the teeth, jaw, and other oral tissues. He or she can use fixed, removable, and maxillofacial prosthoses, and dental implants in his or her practice.
Fixed dental prostheses are dental restorations which are not removable and are permanently placed in the mouth. These type of prostheses include:
- A dental crown is commonly referred as a cap. It completely covers the visible portion of the tooth, serving as a protection for weak tooth, restoration for a broken tooth, support, covering of a discolored or misshaped tooth, among others.
- A dental bridge is used to fill the gap created by a missing tooth or teeth.
As the name suggests, removable prostheses are removable. This type of dental prostheses replaces the soft tissues and teeth. The most common removable prostheses are dentures. Dentures can be used to replace all of the teeth through complete dentures or some of the teeth through partial dentures.
Maxillofacial prosthodontics is the rehabilitation of individuals with congenital or acquired mouth or face defects. Rehabilitation for these defects may include prostheses like obturators, speech bulbs, palatal lifts or augmentation, among others. Maxillofacial prosthodontics also includes facial prostheses like eye, nose, and ears.
Another replacement option for people with missing tooth or teeth is a dental implant. A dental implants is an titanium or titanium alloy-made artificial device designed to substitute a tooth root. It serves as a stable and strong structure for bridge, crown, or other dental prostheses.