Prosthodontic dentistry is the specialized field of dentistry that focuses on repairing or replacing missing teeth using a variety of techniques and devices including full dentures, dental bridges, crowns, and dental implants. Your general dentist may have additional training in prosthodontic dentistry, or he or she may refer you to a specialist if you require dental prostheses.
Prosthodontic dentistry involves fitting dentures or bridges for someone whose teeth are already missing, or it may include extraction of teeth that are too severely damaged or whose tooth decay is too severe to be treated by any other means. Devices used in prosthodontic dentistry (also called restorative dentistry) fall into two categories:
- Fixed. Fixed devices include fillings or crowns that are fitted specifically to a tooth or teeth and cemented into place. Fixed devices also include dental implants, which are secured into your jaw. Ideally, fixed devices will last for anywhere from five to 15 years, depending on the material from which they are made.
- Removable. Removable devices include full dentures or partial dentures, which are removed at night for cleaning.
In addition, a prosthodontist may be involved in treatments to help manage jaw problems caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) such as tooth grinding or jaw clenching. In some cases, these conditions are treated with a customized mouth guard for the patient to wear at night. In other cases, a prosthodontic procedure such as a crown, bridge or implant, may be needed if damaged or misaligned teeth are causing the TMJ.