Prosthodontics is a dental specialty that helps correct many dental problems to restore your smile. If you have damaged, chipped, or broken teeth or are missing all, several, or one of your teeth, prosthodontics services can be helpful. However, you need a professional to conduct the treatment procedure for it to work.
At Tarzana Dental Care, our dental professionals use the latest reconstruction techniques to restore dental function and beautiful appearance in our patients. Our goal is to provide durable, natural-looking treatment results within no time and with the maximum possible comfort. If you seek prosthodontic treatment in Tarzana, CA, do not hesitate to contact us. We will develop a customized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and objectives during our consultation at your initial appointment.
Prosthodontics, also referred to as prosthetic dentistry or dental prosthetics, is among the nine dental specialties recognized by the ADA (American Dental Association). The term refers to a branch of dentistry that deals with creating replacements (dental prosthetics or artificial teeth) for damaged or missing teeth. The term ‘prosthodontics’ originates from two terms— 'prostho', meaning replacement, and ‘dontist,’ meaning teeth.
The prosthodontic treatment procedure involves diagnosing, treating, rehabilitating, and maintaining the comfort, oral function, health, and appearance of patients with dental problems associated with deficient or missing teeth, severe tooth damage, and oral & maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes. Prosthodontics also involves the maintenance of the already prescribed dental prostheses.
Prevalent prosthodontic treatment options include dental implants, dentures, bridges, and crowns. A dental prosthesis can either be permanent or removable. Permanent prostheses cannot be removed from the mouth once placed or inserted; examples include bridges and crowns. On the contrary, a removable prosthesis can be taken out of and inserted in the mouth at any time. Examples include complete and partial dentures. Implants can be inserted to support dental crowns on the molars and premolars and a lower full denture.
A dental professional specializing in prosthodontic treatment is known as a prosthodontist. Once a prosthodontist graduates from dental school, they must undergo rigorous specialty training for three or four more years in their field of choice.
Further training for prosthodontists is earned through an ADA-accredited university- or hospital-based program. The training entails reviews of the lectures, literature, laboratory experience, and treatment of patients in fabricating dental restorations. A prosthodontist is an expert architect who can restore optimum appearance and function to your smile. Prosthodontists also routinely treat Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
Because their role is highly dynamic, prosthodontists are expected to be trained and knowledgeable in various aspects, like neck and head anatomy, biomaterial science, and biomedical science. Prosthodontists are in charge of the following:
- Providing maxillofacial reconstruction.
- Making dental prostheses.
- Providing full-mouth reconstruction or full-mouth rehabilitation.
- Enhancing the general teeth appearance.
- Restoring the appearance and function of lost teeth.
- Replacing and repairing teeth that are severely damaged or lost.
- Supervising the entire treatment process.
Prosthodontist Vs. General Dentist
A general dentist is a primary dental care provider. They provide regular dental cleanings, check-ups, and essential restorative treatments, such as bridges, crowns, and fillings.
Unlike prosthodontists, general dentists need not receive additional years of residency training after they graduate from dental school. Prosthodontists also specialize in fabricating teeth replacements like dentures, bridges, crowns, et cetera, unlike general dentists who offer general dental services.
General dentists usually refer patients to prosthodontists when the case at hand is complex or is outside the scope of their practice.
And even though the responsibilities and roles of prosthodontists and general dentists may overlap, there is a difference. A prosthodontist provides more coordinated services, combining various techniques to treat or improve all teeth or the whole mouth rather than correcting individual issues. During implementing a dynamic treatment plan meant to fix all the issues a patient has with their mouth and teeth, a prosthodontist will have to oversee a team comprising other medical and dental professionals, including a general dentist.
Prosthodontics Vs. Orthodontics
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with straightening teeth. Orthodontists specialize in clear aligners, retainers, and braces. Prosthodontics, on the other hand, focuses on fabricating dental prostheses. Prosthodontists specialize in making crowns, bridges, dentures, and other oral appliances.
Prosthodontics Vs. Periodontics
Prosthodontics and periodontics sound similar but are different dental specialties. We have explained what prosthodontists do. On the other hand, periodontists are dental professionals who deal with the tissues surrounding the teeth. They specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing oral inflammation or gum or periodontal disease.
Periodontists treat infections with root planing and scaling— a dental procedure that cleans the infected tooth root or removes damaged tissue. They may also utilize surgical procedures to treat gum disease. Apart from examining the gums and teeth, periodontists may probe between the gums and teeth or take x-ray images to see whether pockets of infection have formed.
When comparing prosthodontist and periodontist requirements, both start their professions with training in general dentistry, completing a minimum of four years of dental school and three years of undergraduate work. Periodontists then undergo additional three-year training after finishing school. On the other hand, prosthodontists spend three or four years in specialized training, learning how to improve a patient’s dental appearance and restore optimum function.
Gum disease frequently occurs alongside chronic illnesses affecting older people, like heart disease and diabetes, and a periodontist must consider these conditions during treatment. People who require prosthodontic treatment may be of any age and may be healthy except for their dental issues.
There are four specialties of prosthodontics. Each branch focuses on correcting problems affecting a different jaw and mouth area. They include:
Maxillofacial prosthodontics deals with correcting missing or malformed structures and tissues, whether acquired because of injury or illness or present from birth (congenital). The missing structures or tissues can often create difficulties with chewing, swallowing, and speech. Disfigurement is also common when structures or tissues are missing.
Maxillofacial prostheses can be extraoral or intraoral. Intraoral maxillofacial prostheses include palate lifts and covers, jaw replacements, palate drops, and fluoride carriers (made for medical protection because of illness or disease). Examples of extraoral maxillofacial prostheses are ear (auricular), eye (orbital, ocular), mid-facial, nose (nasal), radiation shield (made to be utilized when going through radiation treatment), or somatic (part of the body).
You may require maxillofacial prosthodontics services if:
- You seek treatment for cleft palate.
- You want to undergo jaw or mouth reconstruction after trauma to the region or cancer treatment.
- You want to have jaw or mouth reconstruction because of congenital defects.
- You want to undergo reconstruction and treatment of missing or underdeveloped mouth or facial structures.
- You want to protect existing tissues and structures during cancer treatment.
Treating the above cases requires a multidisciplinary approach where maxillofacial prosthodontics is combined with plastic surgery, neck and head surgery, maxillofacial surgery, speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Implant prosthodontics focuses on utilizing implants to secure permanent prosthetics in place in the mouth. Various implant-supported prostheses exist, including individual crowns, removable and fixed implant dentures, and larger bridges. Common reasons for seeking implant prosthodontics services are if you do not like removable prostheses like dentures, have lost all or your teeth because of disease or injury, have lost multiple teeth, and want to have a bridge or similar dental health needs.
Non-permanent or removable prosthodontics focuses on making removable dental prostheses. Rather than being installed, non-permanent prosthetics are fitted. Usually, they are customized to fit comfortably for an extended period and be taken out for cleaning. Removable prostheses include gingival veneers and dentures.
Common reasons for requiring removable prosthodontics services are if you wish to have removable dentures or a dental bridge fitted to correct tissues or gums because of injury, missing teeth, tooth loss, and dental disease. If your gums have receded, revealing discoloration near the base of your teeth, you also want to have your dentist fit gingival veneers to conceal this color difference.
Fixed prosthodontics is the opposite of removable prosthodontics. It focuses on fabricating permanent dental prostheses. Once installed, a fixed prosthesis cannot be removed. Fixed prostheses include crowns, artificial teeth, bridges, inlays and Onlays, and veneers.
Prevalent reasons you may seek out fixed prosthodontics services are if you have undergone the root canal procedure and part of your original tooth is missing. Dental crowns, Inlays, and Onlays are more common permanent prostheses used in prosthodontics.
Candidates for Prosthodontic Treatment
Prosthodontics can correct a wide array of dental problems. Your general dentist may recommend that you see a prosthodontist if you have the following:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Cosmetic concerns
- Facial or mouth pain
- TMJ dysfunction or pain
- Severely damaged teeth
- Missing teeth
Most dental treatments are prosthodontics. A general dentist might offer most of these procedures, although they will likely refer you to a prosthodontist if the case is intricate or needs coordinated treatment.
Implants are small, threaded posts that replace the roots of missing teeth. They are permanent restorations made from ceramic or surgical-grade titanium. Your dental service provider surgically inserts them into the jawbone, and they act as tooth roots. After they have healed and fused with the bone, a prosthodontist can place dentures, bridges, or crowns on top of them.
If you are missing all or most of your teeth and wish to replace them, your prosthodontist might recommend dental implants to help support your dentures. This technique uses different amounts of implants to replace the lower or upper arch of teeth, usually without requiring bone grafting. Consult your prosthodontist or general dentist to know how many implants are ideal for your situation
Inlays and Onlays
If your tooth is severely damaged to the extent it cannot be corrected with a simple filling but is not damaged enough to warrant a dental crown, you may require an Inlay or Onlay. These dental restorations fit into your tooth structure like tiny puzzle pieces.
Dentures refer to a tray holding artificial teeth. The tray is usually worn over the jawbone and is a prevalent option for replacing missing teeth. There are two primary types of dentures— full and partial.
Full dentures replace a full arch of missing teeth, while partial dentures replace several sporadically missing teeth. Dentures are removable dental appliances and come in handy in restoring the appearance and function of a patient's smile. Your prosthodontist will fabricate your dentures to fit your mouth and select a shade that resembles your original teeth.
The prosthodontist may also talk with you about overdentures. Overdentures resemble traditional dentures from the outside, but they are secured in the mouth by screwing or clipping onto dental implants anchored in the jawbone. This helps reduce the jawbone loss that could occur with conventional dentures.
Dental bridges are prosthetics that replace one or several missing teeth in a row and correct the problem of gapped teeth. This prosthetic comprises two crowns on either side with pontics (artificial teeth) in between them. After the bridges are placed, your original teeth support the crowns, and the artificial teeth fill the gap in your smile. Bridges are cemented onto the teeth and are permanent.
Dental crowns are, at times, referred to as caps. They are dental restorations placed over badly damaged teeth to conceal surface defects, restoring the strength, function, and natural appearance of your smile. You may need a dental crown if you have a cracked tooth, extensive tooth decay, or recently underwent a root canal procedure.
Crowns can be made from ceramic, porcelain, or metal and are customized to resemble your original teeth. Apart from placing dental crowns, prosthodontists also conduct related procedures like crown-to-root ratio and crown lengthening.
Putting on a mouthguard during the night can alleviate the strain on your jaws and teeth and assist you in breathing more easily when sleeping. Your prosthodontist can make a custom-fit mouthguard for you if you clench or grind your teeth while sleeping (bruxism), you have TMJ dysfunction, or your throat becomes blocked during sleeping (sleep apnea).
Night Guards and Splints
To maintain the effects of successful prosthodontics treatment, prosthodontists also prescribe night guards and splints.
Veneers are thin materials bonded over the tooth surface to conceal surface defects. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth because of unevenness or discoloration, veneers can give your smile uniformity.
Maxillofacial prostheses are specifically made to treat various forms of congenital and acquired maxillofacial defects like cleft palates. Examples of maxillofacial prostheses are mandibular-resection prostheses and speech-aid prostheses.
Maxillary obturators are prostheses placed on the roof of the mouth as a treatment for abnormalities that involve the oronasal fistula.
Outlook and Recovery
Recovery time is based on several factors, such as how many teeth require treatment and the procedure you underwent. Generally, a person fitted with only one crown may resume daily activities immediately. But a person who requires full dentures on the two arches might have to take several days off work to recover.
Based on the kind of prosthodontic treatment procedure you require, it may take numerous coordinated dental visits and several months to complete. Inquire from your prosthodontist or dentist about what timeline to anticipate.
Benefits of Prosthodontics
Prosthodontic treatment can:
- Correct Temporomandibular joint problems.
- Improve your bite (the way your teeth fit together).
- Replace missing teeth.
- Repair severely damaged teeth.
Risks of Prosthodontics
As far as undergoing prosthodontic treatments is concerned, there are minimal risks. Like other dental procedures, there is always a slight likelihood of nerve damage or infection with prosthodontics treatment. If you experience any warning symptoms like drainage around the treatment site or fever, contact your prosthodontist or dentist as soon as possible.
When to Contact a Prosthodontist
Schedule a dental appointment if you have the following:
- Missing teeth.
- Severely damaged teeth.
- Decayed teeth.
- TMJ disorders and other jawbone-related problems.
- Misshapen teeth.
- Dental occlusions.
- Congenital mouth disorders like cleft palate.
- Sleep apnea or any other sleeping and snoring disorders.
- Congenital neck and head defects that prevent you from leading a quality life.
- Mouth or facial injuries because of trauma.
- Acquired oral and maxillofacial defects like oral, head, or neck cancer damage.
- Any issue that devalues your mouth or teeth' pleasing or normal appearance.
Your dentist can discuss your treatment options and notify you if you should seek a prosthodontist's help.
If you have recently had prosthodontic treatment, remember to tell your provider should you experience infection symptoms, such as drainage, swelling, or a fever that does not disappear with medication.
Find an Experienced Prosthodontist Near Me
There is no doubt that dental science has dramatically advanced over the years and new technologies continue to provide better-fitting and straightforward, more satisfying solutions to a wide array of oral and dental health problems. It is critical to entrust your dental prosthesis needs only to a prosthodontist who has undergone the necessary training and is certified to practice their profession. If you seek prosthodontic services in Tarzana, CA, call us at 818-708-3232 for a consultation. At Tarzana Dental Care, We will comprehensively analyze your condition before determining what prosthodontic treatment option best suits your needs.