If you are in need of tooth restoration, or if you are unhappy with the way your smile looks, your first inclination may be to head to a cosmetic dentist. While this may be a good idea, it may not be the best idea. Instead, it may be wiser to head to a prosthodontic dentist.
Many people have never heard of prosthodontic dentists. However, these dentists are highly regarded and certified by the American Dental Association (ADA). In fact, prosthodontics is one of only nine sub-specialties of dentistry that are recognized by the ADA…cosmetic dentistry is not one of the nine specialties. This means that dental schools instruct dentists in techniques, methods, and specialized training in prosthodontics—dental schools do not instruct dentists in cosmetic dentistry.
Prosthodontic dentists do learn about certain types of procedures that are used in cosmetic dentistry—this is why it may be a good bet to head to a prosthodontist if you are considering cosmetic dental procedures. What’s more, because prosthodontic dentists have received an additional three years of training post dental school, they are certain to understand how to perform these procedures correctly and safely. Of the 170,000 dentists in the United States, less than 2% are trained prosthodontists.
During their extra three years of schooling, prosthodontic dentists study anatomy of the head, neck, and mouth as well as esthetics (the cosmetic part of performing procedures). These dentists learn about all of the various materials that are used in prosthodontics as well, becoming experts in the field. Quite often during this training period, these prosthodontic dentists are asked to help treat complicated cases. By working on patients whose mouth restorations are complex, prosthodontic dentists learn a great deal about planning and implementing various prostheses. They are considered the quarterbacks of implant dentistry, among other complex types of dentistry.
Many prosthodontic dentists also help patients with maxillofacial procedures. Maxillofacial procedures are ones in which acquired and congenital defects are treated. These can be any defects of the head and neck due to trauma or injury, or they could be defects that were present at birth. However, in order to be licensed to practice maxillofacial procedures, a dentist must complete an additional year of training. This is an extra year after the three extra years required for becoming a prosthodontic dentist.
Regardless of whether a dentist decides to become a prosthodontist or if she decides to attend school for one more year to be able to perform maxillofacial procedures, any prosthodontist is going to be the right dentist for you to see for certain problems with the mouth. If, for example, you have missing teeth, it may be a good idea to find a prosthodontic dentist to help you. Or, if you need a restoration procedure to be done, try to locate a prosthodontic dentist.
Choose the right type of dentist for whom you are looking—in this case, prosthodontic dentist.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC, an Emory University trained prosthodontist.
The Right Smile Center
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
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