Many people have had their mouths restored with implants, crowns, bridges or dentures, but they never think it's all "prosthodontics". That's not surprising because it's the kind of service we all expect from dentistry. However, the difference is that some dentists specialise in this treatment, and these specialists are called Prosthodontists.
A prosthodontist is a specialist dentist who completed an additional three years of full-time university training at a post-graduate level. This extra training equips a Prosthodontist to treat a range of reconstructive problems such as rebuilding broken down dentitions, or restoring dental function for patients with few/ no teeth. This advanced training ensures that they are competent in various clinical procedures such as porcelain veneers, crowns and bridges, removable partial and full dentures and reconstruction using dental implants. Critical analysis of new technologies and the appropriate application of these concepts is also an important part of the specialist training programs. Because of this specialist training, Prosthodontists tend to work closely with other registered dental specialist groups (Endodontists, Periodontists, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons etc) to ensure that a patient’s comprehensive dental needs are treated to the highest possible standard and in the most professional manner possible.
If you have been referred to a Prosthodontist, your general dentist may have identified that you require specialist care and by referring you they have placed your wellbeing first and want the best for you. The Dental Council of New Zealand recognises prosthodontics as a specialty, and many patients prefer the security this affords them prior to embarking on what may be complex and/ or expensive treatment.
The aim of prosthodontic treatment is to ensure that the patient is provided with a superior long-term result rather than a "quick fix" solution, which might break down relatively early or even damage previously healthy teeth and gums. Identifying the nature of a problem is usually the starting point to develope a comprehensive treatment plan. At your first visit to a Prosthodontist you will be asked about your main concerns and relevant background information. There may be questions about your previous dental experiences, medical health and lifestyle. Some may seem unrelated to dental problems but could provide important clues to underlying causes of your dental problems and assist in arriving at a proper diagnosis. As well as performing a thorough clinical examination, x-rays, impressions for study models, records of how your upper and lower teeth fit together, and photographs of your teeth may be taken. All these information helps to put together an accurate and complete picture of your mouth.
Once the gathered records and information have been assessed, you will be presented with a formal treatment proposal with comprehensive outline of any proposed treatment and the fees associated.
Your dentist will be informed of your progress throughout treatment and at the conclusion of any treatment you will return to your general dentist for ongoing routine care.