Prosthodontics, a specialised branch of dentistry, focuses on the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation, and maintenance of oral function, comfort, appearance, and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth. Thanks to technological advancements and innovative techniques, this specialised field is continually evolving. This blog provides an in-depth guide on what one can expect from prosthodontics.
What Are Prosthodontics?
Prosthodontics, or dental prosthesis or prosthetic dentistry, is one of the nine dental specialities recognised by the American Dental Association (ADA). Prosthodontists possess extensive expertise in cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, temporomandibular disorders (TMJ/TMD), and other related areas. They work to improve the patient’s overall oral health by creating prostheses and restorations that fit perfectly into the mouth, ensuring functionality and comfort.
The prosthodontist’s role is not just limited to replacing missing teeth. They are also skilled at managing complex oral health conditions, treating facial anomalies, dealing with oral cancer reconstruction, and providing snoring and sleep disorders treatment. The ultimate goal of a prosthodontist is to restore the patient’s self-confidence by enhancing their smile and oral functionality.
Services Provided by Prosthodontists
Prosthodontists offer a wide array of services related to the replacement and restoration of teeth. Here is a more detailed look at some of these services:
- Dental Implants: Dental implants, also known as artificial tooth roots, play a crucial role in supporting restorations for missing teeth. The implant is surgically placed into the jawbone where the tooth is missing, and once the bone around the implant has healed, it can serve as a foundation for a crown, bridge, or denture.
- Crowns and Bridges: Crowns are dental restorations that cover or “cap” a tooth or dental implant. Bridges are frequently utilised as a solution for replacing one or more teeth that are missing. Bridges are firmly affixed to the surrounding natural teeth or implants, supporting the bridge structure.
- Dentures: These are removable prosthetic solutions that effectively replace missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They can be complete, replacing all teeth, or partial, filling in the spaces created by missing teeth. Dentures restore the patient’s ability to eat and speak normally and prevent facial sagging by providing necessary support to the lips and cheeks.
- Veneers: According to Dr Teo Juin Wei, Dental Specialist in Prosthodontics in Singapore, these are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are custom-made to fit over teeth, providing a natural, attractive look. Dental restorations can effectively enhance the appearance of teeth that are worn down, discoloured, broken, chipped, misaligned, unevenly shaped, or have noticeable gaps between them.
- Full Mouth Rehabilitation: This involves comprehensive treatment planning for patients with complex dental needs to restore optimal oral health and functionality. It may involve several treatments, like crowns, bridges, veneers, dental implants, soft tissue grafts, or orthodontics.
The Prosthodontics Treatment Process
The prosthodontic treatment process begins with a comprehensive oral examination, including X-rays and possibly 3D imaging, to understand the patient’s oral health condition. The prosthodontist will then discuss your treatment options, and together, you will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs and preferences.
Implementing this plan can involve several phases and office visits, depending on the complexity of your situation and the types of prosthetics required. For instance, if dental implants are part of your treatment plan, you must allow time for the implant to integrate with your jawbone.
At each stage, the prosthodontist will ensure that each new tooth or set of teeth looks good and functions properly, matches the appearance of your natural teeth and enhances your smile. After the completion of the treatment, regular follow-up visits are necessary to ensure the health and longevity of the prosthetics.
Advancements in Prosthodontics
The field of prosthodontics has seen significant advancements over the years, particularly with the rise of digital dentistry technologies. For instance, CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing) technology has revolutionised the field by providing precise and efficient production of dental restorations like crowns, veneers, inlays/onlays, fixed bridges, dentures, and dental implant restorations.
Another significant advancement is the use of dental implants. Unlike traditional tooth replacement methods, implants provide a long-lasting solution for missing teeth that provides stability and stimulates bone growth, preventing bone loss in the jaw.
The future of prosthodontics looks promising, with ongoing research and development in biomaterials, implant design, 3D printing, and biotechnology.
Instances You Would Need Prosthodontics
Prosthodontics comes into play in a variety of circumstances. Whether due to injury, disease, age, or a genetic disorder, there are numerous situations where individuals may require the specialised services of a prosthodontist.
- Tooth Loss: Tooth loss due to an accident, decay, or disease often requires prosthodontic treatment. Prosthodontists specialise in creating and fitting dental prosthetics like bridges, dentures, and implants.
- Severe Tooth Damage: Severe damage to teeth from trauma or decay can be restored using prosthodontic treatments such as crowns or ‘caps.’
- Complex Dental Issues: Complex dental issues that affect the function of your mouth and teeth, like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), congenital mouth defects, or complex restorations following mouth cancer treatment, can be managed by a prosthodontist.
- Cosmetic Enhancements: If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, prosthodontic treatments like veneers or teeth whitening can be used to improve your smile.
- Full Mouth Rehabilitation: Extensive dental issues affecting most or all of your teeth may require full mouth rehabilitation, which involves multiple prosthodontic procedures.
- Dental Implants: For those with one or more missing teeth, dental implants offer a more permanent and natural-feeling alternative to dentures or bridges. A prosthodontist can design and fit these implants.
In summary, prosthodontics offers comprehensive solutions for individuals facing issues related to missing or damaged teeth. By choosing a prosthodontist, you are opting for an expert with the knowledge and experience to handle complex dental cases and provide high-quality care tailored to your specific needs. With their help, you can regain the function of your teeth and the confidence in your smile.