What is prosthodontics? What dental procedures can prosthodontists perform?

Peter March

Written by Peter March DDS, Nichole McKenna DDS, Richard Hattaway DDS

A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on restoring aesthetics, functionality, comfort, and health of a patient’s mouth with artificial materials. Their main focus is to replace missing or damaged teeth.

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Prosthodontist vs. other dental specialists

Prosthodontists complete 3-4 years of additional training after completing dental school. Their education is centered around restorative procedures.

They cater mainly to patients who are undergoing a full mouth reconstruction or have significant bone loss. These problems most commonly affect seniors and the elderly. Prosthodontists’ services also include emergency dental treatment, such as adjustments and repairs of prostheses.

What is prosthodontics about?

Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the ADA.This branch of dentistry includes diagnosing, planning, and treating tooth loss. Prosthodontists replace missing teeth as well as help restore soft and hard tissues within the mouth.

Prostheses are made with biocompatible materials to ensure patient safety and comfort. Below you can find the most popular methods as well as other procedures performed by prosthodontists.

Dental implants

Single dental implant in parts

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Implants are considered the best tooth replacement. This is because they are long-lasting and provide the most functionality. Prosthodontists may extract damaged teeth and insert titanium rods. Crowns are mounted on them, making the smile as good as new.

The downsides of implants include their high price and the duration of the process. If bone augmentation procedures are necessary, you may be referred to an oral surgeon. The phases of treatment and recovery can take up to 2 years. During the healing phase you might have a temporary.

The dental implant procedure is an intricate one. It’s smart to go with the best dentist to make sure that the risk of complications is minimal.


Implant bridge

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Dental bridges are similar to dental crowns. The main difference is that they restore multiple neighboring teeth. The most common materials are metals and porcelain. The process is similar to that of a crown. Impressions must be taken and it can take multiple appointments.

There are four main types of bridges. Those include traditional, Cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported. The first three are differentiated by how many adjacent teeth they are attached to.


PFM dental crown

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Crowns are tooth caps placed on the remainder of the tooth or dental implants. Impressions must be taken in order to fit the shape and size to the surrounding and opposing dentition. The possible materials include composite, metals, and porcelain.

Dental crowns are irreversible solutions that serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. It takes a few visits to make one. Tooth crown costs can be quite steep, especially if you go for the more high-end type of material.


Metal partial dentures

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Dentures are removable appliances with fake teeth. This solution is suitable for those who are fully toothless as well as those who still have some dentition. Dentures are often the cheapest restoration option.

Sometimes teeth are so badly damaged they are removed before an appliance is fitted. Nonetheless, the process takes a few weeks to months. Dental impressions must be taken followed by at least two adjustment appointments. After that, dentures need to be regularly relined.

Maxillofacial prosthodontics

Maxillofacial prosthodontics deals with disorders and diseases of the mouth which may be inborn.

These procedures involve treating TMD as well as defects of the hard and soft palate and the jaws. Prosthodontists make appliances such as palatal obturators in order to improve speech, eating, and breathing functions.

Such prostheses often replace missing bone or tissue. While such issues are rare, solutions must be provided. If a patient struggles with any of the above they may be in immediate danger of suffocation.


How do I know whether my prosthodontist is board-certified?

The American College of Prosthodontists has a search engine patients can use to ensure a prosthodontist is board-certified. Any practicing prosthodontist must pass an examination established by the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP). The certification must be renewed every 8 years.

How many years do you have to go to college to be a prosthodontist?

Prosthodontists must possess a bachelor's degree, complete dental school, and attend specialist training. Altogether, this process can take as much as 12 years.

What are the branches of prosthodontics?

There are four branches of prosthodontics. Those include fixed prosthodontics, removable prosthodontics, implant prosthodontics, and maxillofacial prosthodontics.

Does a prosthodontist pull teeth?

A prosthodontist may remove teeth if the restoration treatment requires it.


  1. Dental Restoration - ScienceDirect
  2. Dental specialties and subspecialties - Britannica
  3. Biocompatible Material - ScienceDirect
  4. Dental Bridge - ScienceDirect
  5. The quality of fixed prosthodontic impressions: An assessment of crown and bridge impressions received at commercial laboratories - ResearchGate
  6. An insight into the future beckons of maxillofacial prosthodontics: Anaplastology - ResearchGate
  7. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders) - NIDCR
  8. Palatal obturators in patients after maxillectomy - NCBI