Choosing a Prosthodontist vs Dentist for Cosmetic Dentistry

So you’re considering your options for cosmetic dentistry. There are plenty of decisions to make including the desired outcome, the work you’ll have and where you’ll have it done. Deciding on who will do your procedures could well determine the look you’ll have for a lifetime. Few decisions in your life are so important.

What is a Prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is someone who performs cosmetic dentistry. The meaning is all in the name. “Prostho” means replacement and “dontist” means dealing with teeth.

According to the Australian Prosthodontist Society Inc, prosthodontics is the discipline of dentistry concerned with the ‘consequences of congenital absence of acquired loss of oral tissues and with the methods for and assessment whether more good than harm is done by inserting artificial devices made from alloplastic materials’.’

What’s the Difference Between a Prosthodontist and Dentist?

A prosthodontist is a qualified dentist who has completed highly-skilled training in tooth replacement, restoration and dental prosthesis. The three years of extra training through an Australian Dental Association-accredited course involves placement of veneers, crowns, bridges, dental implants, dentures and treating temporomandibular disorders (TMJ). Prosthodontists learn how to restore the optimum function and aesthetics of smiles.

A general dentist is a valuable member of the dental community. They help patients maintain good oral hygiene to prevent dental problems from occurring. Dentists repair tooth decay, disease and trauma. Most dentists complete minor restorative care and cosmetic procedures and refer patients to specialists for more complex issues.

Why Use a Prosthodontist for Cosmetic Dentistry?

Only prosthodontists have the extra training and skills needed to undertake complex dentistry work. Besides the additional training, prosthodontists have the advantage of a bank of knowledge and experience of dealing with hard cases daily.

Dentists spend most of their week on general dental issues such as check-ups and fillings while a prosthodontists’ day is filled with a range of complex dental problems including: 

  • Excessive tooth wear and dental erosion
  • Dental implants for missing teeth
  • Veneers to improve aesthetics
  • Thin gum tissue
  • Poor tooth support
  • Occlusal instability (poor bite)
  • Developmental and congenital defects of the jaw and teeth
  • Severe dental trauma
  • High risk patients 

Prosthodontists have a strong network of specialist colleagues with whom they can consult and refer to for opinions prior to and during the treatment journey of these complex cases.

General dentists refer patients with these problems to a prosthodontist for treatment as they don’t have the experience to treat them. If the dentist attempted to resolve the issue rather than being treated by a specialist prosthodontist, there is a risk the patient could suffer a poor, long-term outcome. These treatments are permanent and irreversible so patients should check they have the best qualified person performing the procedure.   

How Do I Know if Someone is a Prosthodontist or a Dentist?

It’s easy to find out what qualification a dentist or specialist dentist holds. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website allows you to search for a dentist by name or location. Under the name of each professional lists whether they’re a general dentist or specialist dentist in one of 13 areas of specialisation including prosthodontics, orthodontics, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery to name a few.

Second Opinion

Have you been talking to your dentist about cosmetic dental treatment such as veneers or implants? Before proceeding, it’s worth getting a second opinion from an expert in the field because there is nothing more important than your health and wellbeing. You don’t need a referral to see a prosthodontist.

For more information on our treatments using porcelain veneers click here, or for more information on all our treatments for cosmetic dentistry click here. If you have any queries about mouth restorations, prosthodontics or require a second opinion, call us on (08) 9321 1632 or book an appointment.