PROSTHODONTICS ENTAILS: the replacement of any missing or damaged oral structures, including the teeth, roots of teeth, and bone. This may be accomplished by surgery, restorative procedures, or a combination of both.
Less than 3% of all dentists in the United States are Prosthodontists.
Prosthodontics is one of nine ADA specialties. After completing four years of dental school a student will receive their DMD or DDS degree (there is no difference between the two) and upon completion and passing of necessary licensing exams are able to begin practicing dentistry. Most schools have any where from 50 to 100 students in a graduating class and most of these students will go on to apply to dental residencies (specialty or general) rather than begin practicing. Not all schools provide prosthodontic programs, and those that do, usually only accept three to five applicants from all over the world per year. This creates a highly competitive application process and is typical of all dental residencies.
Training consists of treatment planning and treating complex full mouth reconstructions and aesthetic or cosmetic cases. These cases may be patients with complex dental needs, congenital defects or deficiencies, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or history of injury. Didactic courses consist of intense study of occlusion, TMJ and associated anatomy, dental materials, biomedical sciences, and dental laboratory technologies.
Most residencies require residents to do most if not all dental laboratory work. This gives the prosthodontist a thorough understanding of what may be limiting when the time comes to actually make any restorative prosthesis (dental crown, bridge, etc).
Most dental students receive little if any training in dental implants. Prosthodontic residencies not only provide extensive training with restoring dental implants but some incorporate the surgical placement into the program as well.
WHAT DO PROSTHODONTISTS DO?
Prosthodontics means prosthetics of the mouth. Prosthodontists specialize in restoring teeth and replacing missing teeth to create beautiful, and most importantly, healthy smiles. Prosthodontic training involves treating the more complex and challenging cases within the dental patient pool. They are a health care provider, architect, engineer, and artist often coordinating the treatment from other specialties that may need to be involved in treating a patient. Dental implants, crowns, bridges, veneers, fillings, dentures, and partial dentures are procedures that make up the heart of the prosthodontic specialty. These procedures are utilized every day on a regular basis.
Advanced procedures are only a part of the big picture. High quality Prosthodontics demands a thorough understanding of proper oral function and health that will help lead to function, comfort, aesthetics, and longevity of the restorative work. This understanding helps dictate when it is best to utilize these procedures.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED TO SEE A PROSTHODONTIST?
Most anyone can see a prosthodontist. No referral is needed. The following patients typically make up a prosthodontic patient pool:
- Mostly adult patients with complex dental needs (dental implants, cosmetics, TMD, etc.)
- Patients having trouble with existing dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, and bite issues
- Adult patients with routine hygiene and dental needs
- Denture patients
- Some children with congenitally missing teeth, history of trauma, or future need for dental implants
Prosthodontics rarely if ever involves treating routine pedodontic patients (children) and orthodontics (moving of teeth). Prosthodontists may choose to provide treatment such as extractions, dental implant placement, root canals, and other routine oral surgery procedures.
In the past, prosthodontics was often divided into two sub specialties: fixed and removable.
Prior to the success that dental implants brought to dentistry in the early 1980’s and the fact that many young adults in the early half of the 20th century had full mouth extractions, prosthodontics relied more heavily on removable prosthetics. Fixed prosthetics (cemented bridgework) was only possible if there were enough remaining teeth. One of these two sub-specialties were often required to be chosen by residents to be their focus.
Today, most prosthodontists do not limit themselves to one or the other. With the popularity and success of dental implants, however, there may be a tendency for prosthodontists to limit themselves to mostly fixed prosthetics. Most dental schools today are teaching less and less removable prosthetics, thus there are fewer clinicians with the skill set and desire to manage removable cases.
Our office is located at 2020 Babcock Rd. Ste 26, San Antonio, TX.
Call us at South Texas Dental Implants & Prosthodontics Phone Number 210-692-0136.