Dental Specialties; Prosthodontics

March 13, 2015

Observing at Kibosho dental surgery If you are considered becoming a dentist, you may be familiar with certain specialties, such as orthodontics and endodontics. But there are additional dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association including prosthodontics. 

Prosthodontics is a specialty, which involves the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients who have conditions that cause missing teeth or maxillofacial abnormalities. Rehabilitation may include restoring function of the teeth and improving comfort and appearance. 


Responsibilities of a Prosthodontic Specialist

Patients are often referred to a prosthodontic specialist by their general dentist. Prosthodontic specialists perform a dental exam and detailed history to determine the cause of the dental deficient. They will also often order and interpret x-rays to help get a better understanding of the patient’s condition.

Dentists working in prosthodontics than develop a treatment plan, based on the patient’s condition, goals and general health. Prosthodontists may use a variety of treatments to replace and restore missing teeth including crowns, bridges and veneers.

Often patients who require treatment from a prosthodontist have complex dental issues and have several missing teeth. Gums may also be receded, and periodontal disease may be present, which can make treatment complicated. Because their needs may be complex, advanced knowledge is often needed beyond that of a general dentist.

Educational Requirements for a Prosthodontists

Similar to other types of dentists, prosthodontists attend four years of college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  A specific degree in a science major is not needed, but dental schools require completion of certain science classes before applying to dental school.

Dental school requirements may vary, so students should check with the schools they are interested in to determine exact classes needed. Often dental schools require classes, such as chemistry, anatomy and microbiology.

The dental school admissions test must also be take prior to applying to dental school. Once you get accepted into a dental program, you have four more years of schooling. Dental school involves a combination of classroom lectures, labs and hands-on experience working in the student dental clinic.

Because prosthodontics requires specialized knowledge, additional training after graduating from dental school is required. Dentists must complete three additional years in a postgraduate prosthodontics residency accredited by the American Dental Association. Many prosthodontists work in private or group practices.

Skills Needed

Prosthodontists need many of the same skills as other types of dentists. For instance, they should have strong interpersonal skills. Working with patients and staff, along with running your practice requires the ability to work well as part of a team. It also requires strong leadership skills. Dentists in this specialty also need to be able to work in small spaces in the mouth and do so with precision. Good dexterity and stamina is needed.

Compassion is also important for prosthodontists. Missing teeth may not only affect a person’s ability to eat and talk, it can also affect their self-esteem. Understanding the impact of missing teeth and how treatment can change a person’s life is needed. That understanding can also make the job very rewarding.