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Prosthodontics / Dentures

Missing, discolored, chipped or broken teeth can seriously affect your smile, dental health and self-confidence. A dentist specializing in prosthodontics can restore or replace your missing teeth.

What is a prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist specializes in restoring and replacing your natural teeth. Most prosthodontists complete up to three years of additional training following dental school in an American Dental Association-accredited program at a university or hospital. Educational standards set and maintained by the American College of Prosthodontists include a focus on biomedical sciences, bite function, head and neck anatomy, biomaterial sciences, aesthetics and treatment planning.

Prosthodontists are considered the architects of dental projects. They envision a final outcome based not just on improved functioning, but on aesthetics as well. A prosthodontist creates a unique treatment plan for each individual patient to improve both dental health and appearance.

Prosthodontics is recognized by the American Dental Association as an official specialty.

To become board certified, prosthodontists must complete extensive exams sponsored by the American Board of Prosthodontics. The written and oral exams are based on the field's literature and theories, and participants must correctly treat and explain three different patient scenarios. Board-certified prosthodontists must complete a recertification exam once every eight years.

Prosthodontic specialities

While your regular dentist can address many of your dental problems, more complicated treatments require a more specialized approach. As dental rehabilitation experts, prosthodontists are masters of a variety of procedures that replace and restore natural teeth.

Patients with cracked, damaged or decaying teeth may see prosthodontists for dental crowns, which are caps that restore a tooth's strength, size and shape. They may replace missing teeth  with a dental bridge that contains an artificial tooth anchored to two natural teeth. Literally "bridging the gap" between two or more teeth, bridges are an attractive and durable solution that look and feel completely natural.

Prosthodontists may use dental veneers to improve the appearance of discolored, misaligned, worn down, broken or chipped teeth. They can dramatically change this wafer-thin shell of tooth-colored material to fit the shape, length, size and color of surrounding teeth.

Patients who are missing some or all of their natural teeth may seek the services of a prosthodontist for a partial or full set of dentures. These removable teeth are made of a durable, realistic material that matches the color and shape of natural teeth.

In addition to these services, a prosthodontist may also treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), cleft lips or palates, sleep and snoring disorders or geriatric health issues.

These treatments can lead to improved appearance, comfort, speech and functioning for people with missing or damaged teeth.

How to choose a prosthodontist

If you know that you will need the services of a prosthodontist, contact your health insurance company to make sure that medical specialists are covered. Depending on your policy, you may need a referral from your dentist. Read through the listing of prosthodontists in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. Your dentist should also be able to recommend a professional, experienced prosthodontist. The American College of Prosthodontists' website also maintains an extensive database that can help you locate a professional in your area. 

Using these considerations, verify their qualifications, education and continuing education by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see member reviews and rankings. 

Before choosing a prosthodontist, ask to see his or her board certification. Not all states require these specialists to be board-certified, but many choose to pursue this distinction. Board-certified specialists often display their certification in their office. Always ask before scheduling an appointment. Also ask to see record of any recent training the prosthodontist has completed. This specialized dental field is always advancing, and it is important that your specialist remains skilled at the most cutting-edge treatments.

Take the time to find a prosthodontist who is a consummate professional, has documented experience in the treatment you require, employs the most modern treatments and carefully and compassionately listens to your needs. After all, your smile is worth it.