Prosthodontics is a branch of dental medicine that focuses on the use of dental prosthetics. It involves the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of dental problems, usually involving tooth loss or severe tooth damage, and the maintenance of prostheses that have been prescribed.
Prosthodontic treatments are often used for cosmetic purposes. Since cosmetic dentistry is not officially recognised as a sub-specialty of dentistry, cosmetic treatments fall under prosthodontics.
Additionally, prosthodontics also has a super-specialty called maxillofacial prosthodontics, which involves the treatment and management of problems that affect the appearance of the head and neck area. Such cases, however, require a multidisciplinary treatment approach, wherein prosthodontics is combined with maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, head and neck surgery, occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.
Dental professionals who specialize in prosthodontics are called prosthodontists. To practice, they are required to complete a basic dental medicine degree followed by three to four years of additional specialty training. Due to the highly dynamic nature of their role, they are expected to be knowledgeable and trained in many medical aspects, such as:
Prosthodontists are responsible for:
Restoring and replacing lost or severely damaged teeth
Patients who will benefit from prosthodontics treatment are those who suffer from the following dental problems:
* Tooth decay
* Tooth loss
* Severe tooth damage, such as cracked or chipped tooth
* Temporomandibular joint disorders and other problems involving the jaw joint
* Dental occlusions
* Misshapen teeth
* Congenital mouth disorders, such as cleft palate
* Congenital head and neck defects
* Sleep apnea, and other snoring and sleeping disorders
* Any problem that detracts from the normal or pleasing appearance of a person’s teeth or mouth
* Facial or mouth injuries due to trauma
* Acquired oral and maxillofacial defects, such as damage caused by oral or head and neck cancers
To treat these dental problems, prosthodontists may prescribe the following treatments:
Maxillofacial prosthesis – These are prostheses that are specifically designed to treat different types of acquired and congenital maxillofacial defects such as cleft palates. Some examples include speech-aid prosthesis and mandibular-resection prosthesis.
American College of Prosthodontists