What is Prosthodontics: Definition and Overview

Definition and Overview

Prosthodontics is a branch of dental medicine that focuses on the use of dental prosthetics. It involves the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of dental problems, usually involving tooth loss or severe tooth damage, and the maintenance of prostheses that have been prescribed.

Prosthodontic treatments are often used for cosmetic purposes. Since cosmetic dentistry is not officially recognised as a sub-specialty of dentistry, cosmetic treatments fall under prosthodontics.

Additionally, prosthodontics also has a super-specialty called maxillofacial prosthodontics, which involves the treatment and management of problems that affect the appearance of the head and neck area. Such cases, however, require a multidisciplinary treatment approach, wherein prosthodontics is combined with maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, head and neck surgery, occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.

Dental professionals who specialize in prosthodontics are called prosthodontists. To practice, they are required to complete a basic dental medicine degree followed by three to four years of additional specialty training. Due to the highly dynamic nature of their role, they are expected to be knowledgeable and trained in many medical aspects, such as:

  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Biomedical science
  • Biomaterial science
    Prosthodontists are responsible for:

  • Restoring and replacing lost or severely damaged teeth

  • Restoring the function and appearance of lost teeth
  • Enhancing the overall appearance of teeth
  • Providing full mouth rehabilitation or full mouth reconstruction
  • Fabricating dental prostheses
  • Providing maxillofacial reconstruction
  • Supervising the whole treatment process
    Although there is some overlap in the roles and responsibilities of general dentists and prosthodontists, there is a distinction, in that the latter can provide a more coordinated approach, combining several different techniques to improve or treat the entire mouth or all teeth as a whole, instead of correcting individual problems. In fact, in the course of implementing a dynamic treatment plan designed to resolve all the problems a patient has with his teeth and mouth, the prosthodontist will need to oversee a team consisting of other dental and medical professionals, including general dentist.

When Should You See a Prosthodontist?

Patients who will benefit from prosthodontics treatment are those who suffer from the following dental problems: * Tooth decay * Tooth loss * Severe tooth damage, such as cracked or chipped tooth * Temporomandibular joint disorders and other problems involving the jaw joint * Dental occlusions * Misshapen teeth * Congenital mouth disorders, such as cleft palate * Congenital head and neck defects * Sleep apnea, and other snoring and sleeping disorders * Any problem that detracts from the normal or pleasing appearance of a person’s teeth or mouth * Facial or mouth injuries due to trauma * Acquired oral and maxillofacial defects, such as damage caused by oral or head and neck cancers
To treat these dental problems, prosthodontists may prescribe the following treatments:

  • Dental implants – These are artificial tooth roots that are implanted into the gums and are able to hold crowns or artificial teeth in place
  • Amalgams – These refer to a combination of metals used as dental fillings
  • Bridge – These are often used alongside crowns to fill the space left by missing teeth
  • Dental fillings – These are materials placed in the tooth to fill up the space left by the damaged or decayed tooth material that the dentist removes. The tooth is then sealed with the filling inside. This is used to treat tooth decay.
  • Crowns – These refer to caps that are placed over the teeth to conceal surface defects or positioning issues. Aside from the placement of crowns, prosthodontists also perform related procedures such as crown lengthening and crown-to-root ratio.
  • Dentures – These refer to a tray holding artificial teeth; the tray is worn over the gums and is a common method used for replacing lost teeth
  • Veneers – These are thin materials bonded over the surface of the tooth to conceal surface defects
  • Fixed dental prosthetics – These refer to dental restorations using materials that are permanently placed in the mouth
  • Splints and night guards – In order to maintain the effects of successful prosthodontics treatment, dentists also prescribe splints and night guards
  • Inlays and onlays – Used as an alternative to crowns, inlays and onlays are used in the treatment of tooth decay
  • Dental surgery
  • Teeth bleaching or teeth whitening
  • Maxillary obturators – These are prostheses that are placed on the roof of the mouth as a treatment for abnormalities involving the oronasal fistula.
  • Maxillofacial prosthesis – These are prostheses that are specifically designed to treat different types of acquired and congenital maxillofacial defects such as cleft palates. Some examples include speech-aid prosthesis and mandibular-resection prosthesis.


  • American College of Prosthodontists


What is Prosthodontics:​ Definition ⁢and Overview

Prosthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on restoring and replacing missing ⁣teeth and improving the‌ function ⁢and appearance of your​ smile. It involves the use of dental prostheses, which​ are ​artificial ‌teeth or dental appliances,‌ to ‌address various dental problems. In this​ article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of prosthodontics, including its definition, procedures, benefits,‌ and the qualifications of prosthodontists.

Definition of Prosthodontics

Prosthodontics is‌ one of the nine dental specialties recognized ‌by the American Dental Association (ADA). ⁢It encompasses the diagnosis, treatment planning, ⁢rehabilitation, and maintenance of oral⁢ function, ⁢comfort, appearance, and health of patients with missing ⁣teeth or oral⁤ and maxillofacial issues. Prosthodontists are skilled in managing complex dental cases, including full⁣ mouth reconstructions, implants, and cosmetic ‌dentistry.

Procedures and Treatments Performed‌ by Prosthodontists

1. ‌Dental Implants: Prosthodontists specialize ⁣in the surgical placement and restoration of dental implants. ​This ‍procedure involves the placement of a titanium post into the jawbone to provide a strong ‌and stable foundation for a prosthetic ​tooth or denture. Dental implants‍ are a popular and long-term ⁣solution⁤ for replacing missing teeth.

2.‌ Crowns ⁣and Bridges: Prosthodontists ⁤are experts in ⁣the ⁣design, fabrication, and ⁣placement of⁢ dental crowns and ⁣bridges. A dental crown is a cap that covers and protects a‍ damaged ​tooth, while a dental bridge replaces ‍one or more missing teeth by using neighboring teeth as ⁢support.​ These restorations are typically made from ⁢high-quality materials like porcelain or ceramic, ensuring natural-looking and durable results.

3. Complete and Partial Dentures:⁤ If you have lost all or most of your teeth, a prosthodontist can create custom-made complete or partial ⁤dentures to replace them. ⁤Complete dentures⁢ are ⁢used when ‍all ‌teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some⁢ natural‌ teeth still remain. Modern dentures are ‍designed to be comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing, allowing patients to ⁤regain their ability to speak,⁣ eat, and smile confidently.

4. Veneers: Prosthodontists ⁢also ⁣specialize in the⁢ placement ‍of dental veneers, which ‍are thin shells made⁢ from porcelain⁣ or resin composite that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. Veneers are used to correct various cosmetic dental ​issues, such as stained, chipped, or misaligned teeth,​ resulting in a dramatically improved smile.

5. TMJ Disorders: Temporomandibular joint‍ disorders (TMJ) can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty in jaw movement. Prosthodontists‌ can diagnose and provide treatment options for TMJ disorders, which may include fabrication and placement of occlusal splints, orthotic devices, or other therapeutic methods‌ to relieve the symptoms and restore proper jaw ⁢function.

Benefits of Prosthodontic‌ Treatment

– Improved Function: ‍Prosthodontics aims to restore your ability to chew and speak properly, which may be compromised​ due to missing teeth or dental problems.‍ Whether it’s⁢ through dental implants, dentures, or other restorations, prosthodontic treatment ⁤can significantly enhance your overall oral function.

– Enhanced Aesthetics: An attractive⁢ smile can boost⁣ your self-confidence and improve your overall quality of life. Prosthodontic​ procedures ‌such as veneers⁢ or crown replacements can transform the appearance of your teeth, resulting in a more attractive and youthful ‌smile.

– ‍Improved Oral⁤ Health: Missing teeth or oral issues can lead to further dental problems,⁢ such as shifting of teeth, gum disease, or bone loss. Prosthodontic treatments help maintain proper alignment, prevent further dental issues, and⁤ promote better overall ‍oral health.

Qualifications of a Prosthodontist

To become a prosthodontist, a dentist must complete an additional three years of advanced⁢ training in an ADA-accredited ‍prosthodontics program after obtaining a dental degree. This specialized training equips prosthodontists with the⁢ skills and knowledge necessary to tackle complex dental cases​ and provide the highest level ‍of care to their patients. Prosthodontists may also pursue board certification through the ​American Board of Prosthodontics to further demonstrate their expertise in the field.


Prosthodontics is a dental specialty that plays a crucial role in restoring the function and appearance‍ of ⁣your‍ smile. From dental implants ‌and crowns ⁣to‌ dentures and‍ veneers, prosthodontists offer a wide range of treatment options⁢ to address various dental problems. By seeking ​the expertise of a prosthodontist, you ​can regain your ability to eat, speak, and smile confidently, ultimately improving‌ your​ overall well-being. If you are experiencing dental issues or have missing teeth, ​it is recommended to consult with​ a prosthodontist to explore​ your treatment options and achieve a⁣ healthy and beautiful ⁣smile.

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