What is a Prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on the restoration and replacement of missing or damaged teeth, as well as the surrounding oral and maxillofacial tissues. Prosthodontists receive extensive training in restorative dentistry, including the use of dental prostheses such as crowns, bridges, dentures, and dental implants. They also have expertise in the treatment of complex dental conditions, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), sleep apnea, and oral cancer.

To become a prosthodontist, one must complete an additional three years of advanced training beyond dental school, either in a university-based or hospital-based program. During this training, prosthodontists learn advanced techniques for restoring and replacing missing teeth, as well as how to design and fabricate custom dental prostheses. They also develop the skills needed to work closely with other dental specialists, such as oral surgeons, periodontists, and orthodontists, to provide comprehensive dental care to their patients. Prosthodontists often work in private practice, but they may also be employed in academic or research settings, or in hospitals or clinics.

What does a Prosthodontist do?

A prosthodontist looking at dentures.

Oral deterioration and loss of teeth are often the result of cavities, gum disease (periodontal disease), teeth grinding, and oral cancer. Any of these issues can leave a patient with difficulty in chewing and with psychological discomfort, which will negatively affect their quality of life. A prosthodontist is the recognized expert when anything needs to be replaced in the mouth, which can range from a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all teeth and gums in the mouth.

Sometimes described as the "oral architect” of the dental team, prosthodontists develop treatment plans and combine other oral treatments with dental/medical specialists and general dentists in order to give full care to patients. They, along with the other specialists, will diagnose and plan a treatment for the patient, such as fillings, dentures, crowns, veneers, implants, bridges, splints, night guards, and cosmetic procedures.

Conditions and Treatments
Every patient is unique, and treatment plans may vary depending on the specific condition and needs of the individual. A prosthodontist will work closely with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific concerns and goals.

  • Restoration of damaged teeth: There are various ways that teeth can get damaged, such as in the case of cavities, teeth grinding, the reduction of salivary flow, exposure of teeth to acid, trauma, and failing restorations. Each patient's concerns are different, and treatment could range from minor to comprehensive treatment. Services can include crowns, veneers, and fillings.
  • Replacing missing teeth: Various options are available, such as a complete set of dentures, a removable partial denture, implants, a fixed bridge, and other alternatives. Prosthodontists work closely with dental technicians to make sure that each custom-made prosthesis looks good and is comfortable for the patient.
  • Oral implants: Oral implants are a possible alternative to conventional tooth replacement options. Dental implants offer patients great advantages, and this biotechnology is rapidly becoming the treatment option for individuals who are missing some or all of their teeth.
  • Aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry: Prosthodontics and cosmetics go hand in hand. Whether it is a single restoration or a more complicated rehabilitation, there is always a common factor: the artificial parts have to combine flawlessly with the surrounding oral environment, as well as be functional and comfortable. Prosthodontists excel in whitening and bonding techniques, color matching, using veneers to reshape teeth, and knowing how to precisely place fixed prostheses such as crowns and bridges.
  • Complex cases: Included in a prosthodontist's training is an in-depth knowledge when it comes to the relationship between teeth and jaws, and what is necessary for a proper bite. Prosthodontists, along with other specialists, provide treatment for patients with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), a cleft palate, and any complicated injuries.

Types of Prosthodontists
There are several types of prosthodontists based on their areas of specialization. It's worth noting that some prosthodontists may have expertise in more than one area of specialization, and may provide a range of prosthodontic treatments to their patients.

  • Implant Prosthodontists: They specialize in the placement and restoration of dental implants to replace missing teeth. They are trained to surgically place dental implants and to design and fabricate implant-supported restorations.
  • Removable Prosthodontists: They specialize in the design, fabrication, and fitting of removable dental prostheses, such as dentures and partial dentures.
  • Maxillofacial Prosthodontists: They specialize in the restoration and replacement of oral and facial structures, such as missing or damaged teeth, jawbones, and soft tissues. They work closely with oral and maxillofacial surgeons and other specialists to provide comprehensive care to patients with congenital or acquired defects, trauma, cancer, or other conditions that affect the oral and facial structures.
  • Cosmetic Prosthodontists: They specialize in the design and fabrication of aesthetic dental restorations, such as veneers, crowns, bridges, and inlays/onlays, to improve the appearance of teeth and smiles.
  • Digital Prosthodontists: They specialize in the use of digital technologies, such as computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems, 3D printing, and digital imaging, to design and fabricate precise and customized dental restorations.

Day-to-Day Activity
A prosthodontist's typical day involves a mix of patient care, treatment planning, and collaboration with other dental specialists to restore and replace missing teeth and other oral structures. Here's what a prosthodontist might do on a typical day:

  • Examine patients: Prosthodontists examine patients to diagnose dental problems and determine the best course of treatment. They take into account the patient's overall health, the extent of the damage, and the patient's preferences.
  • Create treatment plans: Based on the examination, a prosthodontist develops a comprehensive treatment plan that may involve dental implants, bridges, dentures, or other dental prostheses. They explain the plan to the patient and answer any questions they may have.
  • Place dental implants: Prosthodontists may place dental implants to replace missing teeth. This process involves surgically placing an artificial tooth root into the jawbone, which will eventually fuse with the bone to create a stable base for a dental prosthesis.
  • Design and fabricate dental prostheses: Prosthodontists may design and fabricate custom dental prostheses such as bridges, dentures, and crowns. They work with dental technicians to create prostheses that fit comfortably and look natural.
  • Collaborate with other dental specialists: Prosthodontists may work closely with oral surgeons, periodontists, and other dental specialists to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients with complex dental needs.
  • Educate patients: Prosthodontists educate patients about proper oral hygiene and care for their dental prostheses. They may also provide guidance on nutrition and lifestyle factors that can affect dental health. Attend continuing education courses: Prosthodontists stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in dental technology and techniques by attending continuing education courses and conferences.

Are you suited to be a prosthodontist?

Prosthodontists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if prosthodontist is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Prosthodontist like?

A prosthodontist's place of work can vary depending on their employment status, but most commonly, they work in private practices, hospitals, or dental schools.

In a private practice, a prosthodontist may have their own office or work in a shared clinic. They typically work regular hours, which may include evenings and weekends to accommodate patients' schedules. The practice may have specialized equipment, such as 3D scanners and printers, to help with the design and fabrication of dental prosthetics. Prosthodontists may work with a team of other dental specialists, including general dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons, to provide comprehensive care for their patients.

In a hospital setting, prosthodontists may work in a dental clinic or in the oral and maxillofacial surgery department. They may work with patients who have complex medical histories or require advanced prosthetic treatments, such as dental implants or full mouth reconstructions. They may also collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as oncologists or trauma surgeons, to provide multidisciplinary care for patients with cancer or traumatic injuries.

In a dental school, prosthodontists may teach and conduct research in addition to treating patients. They may work with dental students to teach them the principles of prosthodontics and provide clinical instruction. They may also conduct research to advance the field of prosthodontics and develop new materials and techniques for dental prosthetics.

Overall, the workplace of a prosthodontist is typically a clinical environment that is well-equipped with specialized tools and technology to help them diagnose, treat, and manage dental prosthetic cases. They may work with a team of other dental professionals to provide comprehensive care for their patients and may also participate in research and teaching to advance the field of prosthodontics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Comprehensive List of Doctor Specializations and Degrees

Here is a comprehensive list of specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthopaedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.

Corresponding Degrees

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See Also
Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopaedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist

Prosthodontists are also known as:
Prosthetic Dentist Maxillofacial Prosthodontist