While modern dentistry has made excellent strides over the years, misconceptions surrounding the industry still abound. Contrary to popular belief, dentists don’t hold a monopoly on improving a patient’s overall oral health. They don’t oversee and perform every dental procedure, nor are they expected to do so. In fact, a suitable patient pathway often involves interfacing with professionals spanning various dental disciplines, from endodontics to dentofacial orthopedics, and everything in between. Here, our doctors at The Stein Center for Advanced Dentistry will discuss the importance of consulting with a prosthodontist for your oral health needs.
What is Prosthodontics?
Much like medicine, dentistry is highly specialized. And as one of nine branches officially recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA), prosthodontics is dentistry’s oldest and arguably, most complex specialty.
Prosthodontics as a specialty has always been divided into three distinctive areas:
- Fixed prosthodontics, which includes non-removable crowns and bridges
- Removable prosthodontics, which includes full and partial dentures
- Maxillofacial prosthodontics, which involves the treatment of genetic defects such as cleft palate, as well as post-surgical reconstruction following oral cancer treatment
Commonly referred to as “the architects of dentistry,” prosthodontists undergo three years of extensive training following general dental school in which they are provided with the tools and expertise to diagnose and treat patients using biocompatible alternatives to replace missing or damaged teeth. According to the American College of Prosthodontics, more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and nearly 120 million people in the U.S. have at least one missing tooth.
Who Needs to See a Prosthodontist?
Prosthodontists are trained using state-of-the-art techniques to restore optimal function and improve the overall aesthetics of a smile. Thus, any patient with multifaceted restorative needs should consult a prosthodontist for before going through with treatment.
While edentulism (toothlessness) disproportionately affects aging and economically disadvantaged populations, many patients are middle-aged adults or older who have many years of accumulated wear and tear on their teeth.
Types of Procedures:
As their title suggests (“prosthesis” = addition, “odont” = tooth), these specialists plan and execute procedures related to, in part or in full, the replacement of natural teeth. Some of these treatments include:
- Dental Implants: There are times when replacing an entire tooth is the only viable option. These days, dental implants consist of a titanium metal post which is inserted into the jaw, fusing with the jaw bone, providing a solid base for a lifelike crown. While implants are on the costlier side of tooth replacement methods, they can last a lifetime.
- Crowns: Crowns are artificial caps designed to replace the surface of a tooth right above the gum line. They are often required after a root canal, or to repair cracked, broken, or misshapen teeth.
- Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made to conceal the front surfaces of teeth. Whether your teeth are chipped, cracked, or missing entirely, veneers deliver a practical all-in-one solution.
- Fixed Bridges: Harnessing the power of existing healthy teeth, this tooth-replacement method involves a series of linked crowns being fabricated as a single unit, which is then attached to the prepared abutment teeth (teeth supporting the bridge).
- Dentures: Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, dentures can improve the overall aesthetics and functionality of someone who is missing multiple teeth, particularly when the dentures are crafted to a higher standard of workmanship and fitted properly in the mouth.
Contact Your Local Prosthodontist Today
If you have any questions about prosthodontics or how to attain the smile you’ve always wanted, contact our team at (847) 676-3500 to schedule a visit at our Skokie, IL practice. Dr. Stein is an experienced prosthodontic specialist who can design a treatment plan to meet your needs.