The dental specialty of prosthodontics involves the diagnosis, treatment planning, restoration and maintenance of conditions associated with lost or missing teeth, as well as the supporting gum, bone and sometimes facial parts.
What do prosthodontists do?
Prosthodontists do anything from a single customised front crown with an optimal cosmetic result, to porcelain veneers, all-ceramic crowns, all-ceramic bridges, implant supported crowns, implant supported bridges, implant supported dentures (fixed or removable) as well as post-cancer and post-trauma reconstructions. In addition, prosthodontists also treat and manage pain and discomfort relating to endodontics/root canal problems, 'bite' or occlusal problems and Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders. Wherever necessary a prosthodontist will work together with a dentist and other dental specialists (Orthodontists, Periodontists, Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgeons) to provide patients with the optimal cosmetic and functional result.
A prosthodontist will therefore not only do the relevant cosmetic and functional treatment but will also act as the "Project Manager" or "Architect" for your total dental treatment. A prosthodontist will co-ordinate treatment procedures and sequences, between your dental team and where necessary your medical team.
Is a prosthodontist different from a "Cosmetic Dentist"?
Prosthodontics is one of the recognised and accredited dental specialties. Cosmetic dentistry is not recognised as a dental specialty. Prosthodontists however, receive extensive training and experience in dental esthetics and cosmetics during their full-time graduate programmes. Prosthodontists are thus the ideal dental specialists for treating cosmetic dental issues.
When to see a prosthodontist?
If you have discoloured, cracked, worn down, loose or missing teeth, dentures that are loose or hurting, if you lack confidence in your smile, if you have suffered trauma or had cancer resulting in tooth and bone loss, discuss your situation with your dentist and your possible referral to a prosthodontist.
Please remember that altered facial aesthetics due to missing teeth and old dentures with underlying bone loss should ideally be corrected by first prosthodontically replacing the teeth and missing bone. Optimising the position of the prosthetic teeth, gum and bone will restore facial esthetics and reverse the accelerated ageing process. Additional fillers and / or BOTOX should only be done after the prosthodontic phase.
Examples of prosthodontic treatment:
Before and after Porcelain Veneers and Implant Crowns
Before and after with implant supported crowns upper and lower.
Before and after final implant supported prostheses. Upper and lower with guided surgery in the upper jaw.
(Dr Peter van der Meulen)