Are you planning to have your entire smile made over or completely reconstructed? When you need full mouth rejuvenation, prosthodontists are the architects of oral rehabilitation. Even if your general family dentist has 30-40 years of experience and additional training in oral implantology, they may never have the full understanding of reconstruction and occlusion to the same extent that a prosthodontist does.
What is a Prosthodontist?
Prosthodontists are different than general dentists when it comes to the extent of training they have for complex patient cases like full-mouth restoration. All general dentists have a basic foundation for reconstructive treatments. But prosthodontists complete additional, intensive clinical training to perfect their skill to a highly-tuned level of specialized care.
All prosthodontists were once general dentists, but they have an additional 2-3 years of formal education after dental school to specialize in prosthodontics.
When you’re planning something as complex as full mouth reconstruction, prosthodontists have an intense understanding of how occlusion—that is, the biting relationship between each of the teeth in the mouth—plays a crucial role. Even a detail as being half of a millimeter off can cause you to “miss the entire mile” of oral rehabilitation.
Does that mean it’s not worthwhile to see a general dentist? Not at all. General practitioners play a key role in providing routine reconstructive care and preventative services. But prosthodontists are specialized dentist who has additional levels of expertise in smile rehabilitation. You still want to see your family dentist for checkups, basic fillings, and other routine general treatments.
How Does a Dentist Become a Prosthodontist?
During the 2nd or 3rd year of dental school, all dental students are exposed to various specialties. Some develop a love for specific types of procedures and services. Prosthodontics is highly hands-on with extensive work in the lab, pushing the boundaries and performance of a person’s oral anatomy.
There are a couple of different pathways that dentists may take to become a prosthodontist. Some are certification based while others are a formal master’s program. Any dentist can choose to go through the prosthodontics residency, whereas those hoping to go into teaching may prefer a master’s after dental school. A typical master’s program will consist of four comprehensive full mouth rehabilitation cases where all lab work is completed from start to finish, additional research is conducted, clinical cases are presented to a board of prosthodontists who evaluate the dentist’s critical thinking, treatment planning, and deconstruction/reconstruction of the patient’s oral anatomy to achieve the desired end result.
To become board certified, prosthodontists have to pass rigid tests and complete specific numbers of surgical cases to present to their peers.
What Types of Treatments do Prosthodontists Offer?
Prosthodontists can wax up intensely detailed full mouth restorations, understanding the full capabilities of how the dental lab can work with their patients’ needs. Since no two patients are alike, prosthodontists are attuned to the limitation of each dental procedure and how they can aid in modifying the unique needs of each respective patient.
Ultimately, a prosthodontist is one of the best dental specialists to see when you’re aiming for the ultimate goal of a smile you’ve always wanted.
Prosthodontists perform a high number of All-on-4 cases consisting of dental implant therapy and fixed hybrid appliances. Anytime full arch or full mouth reconstruction is required—in addition to treatment in the aesthetic zone of someone’s smile—a prosthodontist plays a crucial role in understanding what’s in the best interest of the patient. Both in terms of function as well as cosmetics.
Are Prosthodontists Better Than Dentists?
There are certain types of treatments that prosthodontists are specialists at, which general dentists receive less in-depth training for. You might think of a prosthodontist as a “super dentist” when it comes to specializing in dental implants or complex reconstructive cases involving natural teeth. The bulk of their expertise is surgical in nature, with intense knowledge of the boundaries of the smile.
For example, prosthodontists know the limitations on existing conditions and how best to use them—or push them—to achieve ideal results in non-ideal conditions.
When you have a complicated smile case, prosthodontists have the level of training you can depend on. Their intense focus not the clinical aspect of your bite and tooth reconstruction allows them to both deconstruct as well as reconstruct your smile from a surgical point of view.
Some people look at prosthodontists as the quarterback of the dental team. They work closely with dentists and patients to understand the specific needs of the case, and then maximize communication between the patient and lab to achieve the optimal results the patients are looking for. The field requires a combination of skill, expertise, artistry, and accuracy. Not even the tiniest of details can be omitted. After all, no two patients’ smiles are alike; putting the same beautiful teeth on one individual could look and feel completely unnatural on someone else.
Choosing a Prosthodontist
Finding a prosthodontist is important when you need full mouth reconstruction. Not only do these experts understand the high level of deconstruction/reconstruction required for full arch rehabilitation, but they have an intense accuracy for knowing what’s best for each individual. No two smiles are alike. Your specialist will work with your unique oral foundation of gum and bone tissue, combined with your unique preferences, to give you exactly what you’re looking for.
Be sure to select a prosthodontist you can relate to and communicate with, as their level of attentiveness is vital to the results you hope to achieve. You can always ask your general dentist or cosmetic dentist for a referral to a prosthodontist, or you can check through online recommendations and ratings to find one that’s well known in your area.
Smile Experts at ARCHPOINT
ARCHPOINT features a team of board-certified dental specialists, including prosthodontists, to provide the absolute best smile reconstruction experience possible. If you’re considering dental implant treatment or a full arch restoration, contact our DFW smile experts to request a consultation.