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What Is a Prosthodontist?

By Natasha Gayle

A prosthodontist works with dentures, implants, crowns and bridges.

More technically, they specialize in dental prosthetics, which is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.

How Are Prosthodontists Different from General Dentists?

Consider a doctor who works on prosthetic limbs (like replacement arms or legs). A prosthodontist works on a portion of your body that more people pay attention to: your mouth.

Because of this, you want to make sure that when you seek dental treatments like dentures, implants, crowns and bridges, you consider the best doctor to perform that treatment. If any of these treatments is going to be more complex than traditional dentures, implants, crowns and bridges, you might consider visitng a prosthodontist instead, who specializes in these areas.

Obviously prosthodontists must be extremely educated and experienced. After completing dental school, where a general dentist would stop, a prosthodontist would continue on with an additional three years of specialist school. With this education, they are capable of procedures like crowns, caps, bridges, veneers, removable partial dentures, dentures and dental implants.

There is even a smaller group of prosthodontists who choose to continue studying for another year called Maxillofacial Prosthodontists. After completing their additional training from an accredited university by the American Dental Association they are able to treat issues dealing with wisdom teeth, oral cancer, snoring or sleep apnea, and the temporo-mandibular joint. They typically perform facial cosmetic surgery and corrective jaw surgery.

Should I Go to a Prosthodontist or General Dentist?

If you have ever wondered why going to a specialist costs so much more than going to a general dentist, now you know that specialist work is extremely high quality and you are paying for that and their expertise. They have at least three years more education than a general dentist in that specialty.

This does not mean that general dentists are not capable of doing some of these procedures. Many general dentists offer dentures, and even implants, to their patients. They usually learn these skills by going to weekend seminars or week long conferences put on by different dental colleges; but don’t let them fool you into thinking that they are specialists.

However, sometimes it is just worth going to the general dentist when it could save you $2,000. Hundreds of people go to general dentists for dentures, crowns and bridges and receive excellent care and treatment. General dentists also work with many more dental plans than specialists, which can usually get you about 50% off their already lower price.

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Specialists very rarely work with dental plans and if they do it is only to the tune of up to about 20 percent discounts off their normally outrageous price.

The choice is yours. Consider a consultation with each dentist if you need major dental work done and see which dentist you feel more comfortable with handling the procedure.

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