What is prosthodontics?

Have you ever heard of prosthodontics? We will tell you what this branch of dentistry deals with.

Last update: December 24, 2021

“Prosthodontics” is a word not very well known to patients requiring dental care. However, this specialty it has a great relevance in the approach of the problems of the oral cavity.

Prosthodontists need constant updating to carry out their task. Advances in its field are continuous and there are more and more prosthetic modalities and variants that adapt to different pathologies.

As you can imagine, prosthodontics is linked to dental prostheses. We will tell you more about this branch of dentistry in the following article.

What is prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics is a dental specialty whose primary function is the design and manufacture of dentures for teeth. These elements are used so that the mouth recovers its functions and its aesthetics.

Although general dentists have the ability to address these treatments, the demand for them and technological advances eventually made prosthodontics a specialty in itself. To such an extent that there are associations of these specialists.

The specialist can work on the restoration of teeth that are damaged or on the replacement of those that are missing. According to the analysis of the patient’s mouth will determine what type of prosthesis is suitable for each situation.

Sometimes, the process begins with other treatments that are essential to culminate with the development of the prosthesis. For this reason, it is necessary for the prosthodontist to work in conjunction with other dental professionals.

Due to the complexity of the clinical cases, the analysis for the creation of the prostheses is not limited to the teeth. The mouth in its entirety is evaluated, since it seeks to recover the functions, achieving a balance between all the components of the stomatognathic system.

To be a prosthodontist, you must complete a specialization. In other words, dentists are trained in postgraduate training to acquire specific knowledge of this field.

Dental prosthetics represent a wide and diverse field in constant development. For this reason, a specialty that encompasses them was necessary.

Why is it an important specialty?

The functions of the mouth are very relevant. The oral cavity is the beginning of the digestive system and is engaged in swallowing, chewing, phonation and also in the appearance of the person.

All these functions require dental arches that allow these processes to be fulfilled. Especially chewing, but also the articulation of words and swallowing.

The importance of prosthodontics lies in the preservation of these functions to improve the quality of life of patients. Speech, swallowing and chewing problems derived from dental alterations can affect daily activities.

In addition, a smile without teeth or with stained or broken dental elements affects the appearance of the person. This can lead to insecurity complexes, low self-esteem and problems relating to others.

But in addition to traditional prosthetics, prosthodontists are able to design and place larger and more complex prostheses for maxillofacial structures. The lower and upper jaw can be altered for various reasons:

  • Trauma of the face and skull.
  • Surgeries of oncological resection.
  • Congenital malformations.

Of course, these situations involve a multidisciplinary work team. The prosthodontist collaborates with skull surgeons, geneticists, orthopedists, and cosmetic surgeons.

What types of prostheses are designed and placed in prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics uses different types of dental prostheses to carry out its objectives. The choice of one or the other solution It will depend on the clinical case of the patient and what is sought to achieve as a final result.

There are fixed or removable prostheses, made of various materials, partial or total, that are inserted or not in an implant. Among all of them, the specialist chooses the one that meets the needs to return functionality, at a cost that is accepted by the patient.

Below we mention what types of prostheses are designed and placed in prosthodontics.

Removable prostheses

The removable prostheses are those that are known colloquially as “false teeth”. They can be put on and taken off at any time, as they are not permanently attached to any part of the mouth.

They can be partial or complete. The former replace only some missing teeth, while the complete ones are to replace a dental arch in its entirety, be it the lower or the upper one.

Materials that are frequently used are metal and acrylic. In general, metal removable dentures are preferred for partial approaches, while acrylic ones are often used when many teeth are missing.

It is also possible to classify these prostheses according to the support they use to remain in position. Although they can be removed at any time, to fulfill their function correctly they need to be anchored in some way.

In this sense, we can mention 3 anchors:

  • Mucosupported: they rest on the oral mucosa.
  • Tooth-supported: they rely on other teeth that are healthy.
  • Mucodent supported: is the combination of the above.

The advantages of removable prostheses lie in their cost and that they do not need a surgical intervention in between. Considering that elderly patients are the main recipients of this method, the industry continues to investigate options to have more materials available and better adaptations.

Fixed prostheses

Fixed dental prostheses, as the name implies, they cannot be removed. They differ from dentures in that they remain attached to anatomical structures in the mouth.

The prosthodontist will do a more thorough job in these cases. Patients will have to schedule various appointments and undergo operative or surgical procedures.

The fixed prostheses that are most used are the following:

  • Dental veneers: They are very thin sheets that are cemented on the external surface of the tooth to hide any aesthetic flaw. They can be used when there are obvious stains on the teeth or if the shape of the teeth is altered. In this way, the balance of the dental arches is restored. The prosthodontist must make a small carving of the site where the veneer will be cemented so that the final size of the piece is not altered.
  • Crowns: Also called “dental caps”, they are covers for the teeth that cover the entire element and not only the external face (as with veneers). Crowns are placed on natural teeth or implants. Prosthodontics is responsible for designing and developing a cover that is consistent with the patient’s mouth. Specific measures are taken to make it possible to obtain a precision product, with a thickness that does not exceed 2.5 millimeters. The most used materials are metal, porcelain, resin, acrylic and zirconia.
  • Dental bridges: This prosthesis replaces missing dental elements with artificial crowns that are attached to neighboring healthy teeth. For the bridge to cement, the healthy elements need to be carved by the specialist, that is, they require wear. The most used materials are metals, resins, porcelain, ceramics and ceromers. There is no single modality for this fixed prosthesis, since the prosthodontist can choose between the traditional, the implant-supported, the cantilever and the Maryland.
  • Dental implants: To place a dental implant, a metal post must be inserted into the jawbone. This screw fuses with the bone tissue and serves as a support for one or more artificial teeth that will be placed as a crown, a bridge or a denture. The procedure requires surgery, as the bone must be penetrated for the bolt to stay there. There are some risks and complications associated with surgery, but in general the success rate is high. Although it is the most expensive option of all fixed prostheses, it is the one that provides the best aesthetic finish and more functionality to the mouth.
Dental implants are the most expensive, but they are the best option available today.

Monitoring of prostheses

The prosthodontist does not stop his work only on the design and placement of the prosthesis. Too will be the one who will guide the patient in adapting to the new element that is in your mouth.

This is not a minor detail. Personalized follow-up prevents the person from feeling uncomfortable, not regaining functionality or abandoning removable prostheses, for example.

Too follow-up appointments are scheduled to make adjustments, if necessary. Sometimes prostheses have to be softened so that they do not hurt other structures in the mouth.

Ongoing cleaning is the responsibility of the patient. The maintenance of the prostheses is related to the success of the treatments. It will be the prosthodontist who will explain to the person how to sanitize the materials in the best way.

If this hygiene is not followed, bacteria could settle on the prostheses, affecting the surrounding tissues. This could ruin the intended achievements.

Prosthodontics is a constantly developing specialty

This branch of dentistry is not new, but continues to advance and implement new knowledge and techniques that improve results. Taking advantage of current technology allows obtaining more precise measurements and using materials that offer advantages when wearing a dental prosthesis.

If you have doubts about the need to use dental prostheses or do not know what would be the most appropriate option for you, consult a prosthodontist. He will be able to advise you on this so that your smile is aesthetic and your mouth recovers its functionality.

It might interest you …