What Does a Prosthodontist Do?
Just as your regular dentist would refer you to see an orthodontist if you need your teeth aligned—such as if you need braces or a retainer—your regular dentist may refer you to a prosthodontist if you need tooth restoration procedures to be done. He will also refer you to a prosthodontist if you want certain types of cosmetic procedures.
A prosthodontist, also called a prosthodontic dentist, is a highly trained dental specialist in the area of dental restoration. After attending dental college and obtaining a dental degree and license to practice dentistry, anyone wishing to become a prosthodontist must attend another three years of rigorous study. During these three years, prosthodontists study the anatomy of the head and neck and esthetics, which relates to cosmetic procedures. They also learn about the various materials used in prosthodontics—the types of implants and crowns and so forth—and occlusion, or bite. Gaining a good understanding of all of these factors is essential to becoming a skilled prosthodontist.
Many prosthodontists choose to take their practices a step further. By studying for one additional year, prosthodontists can become trained in maxillofacial prosthodontics. This branch of prosthodontics involves treating people who need assistance with head and neck defects (hence the name “maxillofacial”). These defects can either be present from birth, as in birth defects, or acquired through means such as surgery or some type of trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents.
Maxillofacial prosthodontists often plan and help to construct prosthetics such as artificial eyes and artificial ears. They also work with patients who need dental prosthetics like maxillary obturators, which are oral devices similar to retainers that can be used to block—and help to heal closed--holes in the roof of the mouth in order to help patients with speech, eating, and proper air flow.
Prosthodontists can perform a variety of dental procedures for patients. Here are some of the more commonly done procedures:
Cosmetic Dentistry: Prosthodontists are the best dentists to perform procedures such as tooth veneers and invisible fillings. They can also perform bleaching whitening procedures, too.
Tooth veneers are made of porcelain and they are extremely thin. Prosthodontists bond them to the teeth in order to correct the shape, position, and/or color of the teeth.
Invisible fillings are preferred by many adults. Unlike children—who often enjoy showing off their “silver teeth” when they have to get fillings, invisible fillings allow adults to have fillings that blend with their natural teeth.
Dental Implants: Prosthodontists have a great deal of experience in placing implants and restoring implants. Implants are actually titanium screws that are drilled into a person’s bone; after the implant is secure, a restored tooth is placed atop the implant.
Crowns/Bridges/Dentures: Prosthodontists can work with patients who need any of these types of dental restorative procedures.
Crowns, also known as ‘caps,’ are used mainly to repair chipped and broken-down teeth. They can be made of porcelain, ceramic, and gold. Bridges, too, can be made of various materials. These repair several teeth at a time. Dentures can be made as full sets or as partial sets.