Prosthodontics

What is a Prosthodontist?

A Prosthodontist is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). Prosthodontics is the area of dentistry focused on the reconstruction and replacement of broken down and missing teeth.  This is accomplished with the use of dental prosthetics in the form of crown, veneers, bridges, implants, and dentures.  In more complex cases a combination of various prostheses and techniques can be employed.  Prosthodontists are sometimes referred to as the quarterback of the specialist dental team as they serve as the primary point of contact for major care.  Interdisciplinary diagnosis, planning, and treatment of both aesthetics and reconstructive cases often starts and ends at with the prosthodontist. 

How does one become a Prosthodontist?
In most cases it takes 11 years of post-secondary study to become a prosthodontist.  The process begins with a undergraduate degree, usually a four Bachelor of Science, followed by 4 years of dental school.  After becoming a dentist the next step is a 3 year prosthodontic residency. 

What is a denturist?
A denturist is a type of dental technician who has undergone additional training and testing enabling them to fabricate, modify, and repair removable denture treatment directly to the public.  To become a denturist most will undertake a college level program focusing on dental technology and patient management. 

What types of treatments do prosthodontist provide?
Prosthodontic treatment can range from a single crown all the way through to a full mouth rehabilitation involving the reconstruction of every tooth.  A primary focus of prosthodontists is diagnosis and treatment planning.  This is why they are often called the quarter back of interdisciplinary cases.  Planning complex cases is commonly done starting with the desired prosthetic outcome and the team works back from there.  For example, in the planning of a dental implant the desired final implant crown position is determined prior to planning the surgical implant position.  This enables both the prosthodontist and surgeon, which can often be the same person, to optimize implant placement, implant location, and material selection. 

Advanced planning traditionally takes the form of using wax in our dental lab to develop mock ups of the desired outcomes before any work is complete.  With new technology we can perform many of these projections digitally, but Dr. Hickman often finds given patients the ability to hold a mock up in your hands to be of great value.