That question came directly from my mother.
She would ask me that question all the time. She got so frustrated at trying to remember what I actually was that she just told her friends that I was an orthodontist, “because everyone knows what an orthodontist is.” That’s true mom, very true. But why is that? Is “protho” more difficult to understand or say than “ortho”? Are the Latin roots understood differently? Perhaps it is, although I seriously doubt it. I suspect that it has to do with one thing and one thing only: My profession’s inability to define it clearly and then successfully brand it. That’s now changing with the addition of Prosthodontist awareness week. What?! Haven’t ever heard of it? Strange…
Please let me try to explain what a Prosthodontist is, without you falling asleep, and what the specialty of Prosthodontics does and the benefit we provide to our patients.
First: Boring definitions found online:
Prosthodontics: the branch of dentistry concerned with the design, manufacture, and fitting of artificial replacements for teeth and other parts of the mouth.
Ya, ok but I’m feeling that sounds more like a “mouth mechanic” than anything else.
Let’s try this one:
Prosthodontists, in addition to their basic dental education, have to successfully complete a rigorous advanced postdoctoral educational program in Prosthodontics accredited by the CDA/ADA. This in-depth additional education provides Prosthodontists not only with enhanced knowledge and skills in their specialty, but also enables them to interact with researchers as well as with clinical experts in other dental/medical fields. Effective communication with a team of experts provides Prosthodontists with a broad insight in diagnosing and solving oral health problems.
Ok. That’s all true, BUT I still have zero clues as to what a Prosthodontist is after re-reading that – and I’m a Prosthodontist! Actually after reading that, I fell asleep, read it again, fell asleep again and now have a headache.
Wait, I found another:
Prosthodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) and is the area of dentistry that focuses on dental prosthetics. The ADA has defined Prosthodontics as “the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.”
A Prosthodontist has three years of extended training in several areas of restorative dentistry, including dental implants, crowns, bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures, esthetics, occlusion, and facial and dental birth developmental defects. Prosthodontists are also trained in the technical and technological aspects of laboratory fabrication of complex dental prosthetics and complex restoration of dental and facial esthetics.
This is so long…..
Maxillofacial Prosthetics is a branch of prosthodontics that requires one additional year of fellowship training with a focus on treatment of patients who have congenital defects of the head and neck region due to cancer, surgery, trauma, and birth defects. Prosthodontics has an emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment planning of patients who have complex dental needs and on providing treatment services that primarily involve the repair or replacement of natural teeth with a variety of fixed or removable prosthetic options.
Increased patient demand for esthetic services and for implant-supported prostheses has caused an increased emphasis on these types of procedures in prosthodontic training programs and practices. To successfully manage these patient needs, prosthodontists collaborate with all members of the dental team, including other specialty colleagues, general dentists, dental hygienists, and laboratory technicians. Through consultation and collaboration with the dental team, prosthodontists provide patients with a customized treatment plan and alternative options, with associated advantages, disadvantages, prognosis, risks, and time involved. Through ongoing research and material development, the specialty of prosthodontics has strengthened and has taken advantage of new procedures and processes.
The application of digital innovation in dentistry has been a major factor in the evolution of prosthodontics. As an example, in the area of dental implants prosthodontists routinely utilize cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) in the planning and placement of dental implants. Continuing beyond digital imaging, computer aided image capture, design and manufacturing of restorations has become the logical pathway for prosthodontics to follow. Innovative methods to help with the treatment of sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorders have also evolved over time as have the educational responsibilities to provide those services to patients served by prosthodontists.
Ok if you got through that without skipping it (I did) can you now tell me what a Prosthodontist is?
Now you know why my mother was so frustrated? I’m starting to feel it too.
So, after all that what is a Prosthodontist? How’s this:
We are the cosmetic, esthetic, and implant dentistry experts.
That’s it! That’s what we do. We are trained specifically to handle the most difficult of cases, whether they be implant-related or tooth-related. If you have a problem or a need, we can handle it. It’s our specialty. In addition, we work with all the other specialists coordinating your care if necessary. Who determines if it’s necessary? We do!
So, how’s that? Now do you know what a Prosthodontist is? Good. So does my mother!
-Dr. Moftah El Ghadi, DMD, FACP Prosthodontist
To learn more about Dr. El Ghadi, click here.