Prosthodontists and oral surgeons are both specialist dentists but not everyone understands the differences between these specialist groups.
What is a Prosthodontist?
A prosthodontist focuses on repairing damaged teeth and replacing missing teeth to restore oral function and facial aesthetics.
Prosthodontists use a range of dental procedures and appliances to achieve the desired look for a patient including:
· Porcelain and composite resin veneers
· Dental implants
· Dental crowns and bridges
· Reconstruction due to wear and tear of teeth or grinding
· Smile makeovers
A prosthodontist trains as a dentist and must work as a general dentist for at least two years before studying full time for a further three years at an Australian Dental Association-accredited university program.
What is an Oral Surgeon?
An oral surgeon is also referred to as a maxillofacial surgeon and specialises in surgeries that mainly involve the jaw, cleft palate and teeth. The surgical procedure may be required to correct a facial or jaw problem caused by trauma, disease or a congenital defect. An oral surgeon may also treat a range of chronic oral or facial conditions.
Oral surgeons are qualified to complete the following types of surgeries:
· Removing impacted and buried teeth or cysts
· Cleft lip and palate surgery
· Bone augmentation prior to prosthetics
· Surgical implant placement
· Bone grafting prior to implants and dentures being fitted
· Congenital craniofacial and dentofacial deformities
· Rehabilitation following surgery for tumours and to prepare facial prostheses
· Trauma surgery for facial bone fractures, soft tissue and reconstructive surgery
· Snoring and sleep apnoea correction surgery
· Facial plastic surgery and facial implants
· Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
· Tumour and cancer surgery and rehabilitation
An oral surgeon needs to complete 11 years of training, including a four-year training program with Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, a degree in medicine or dentistry, registration as a dentist and medical practitioner and a full year of general surgery.
Requirements of the Job
The requirements of the job for prosthodontists and oral surgeons are similar. To ensure the best outcome for patients, the specialist must have good hand-eye coordination, good concentration skills for lengthy periods of highly detailed work, excellent communication skills with colleagues and patients and a reassuring demeanour.
How Do You Know Which Specialist to See?
In many instances a dentist will inform a patient of a dental problem they consider needs specialist treatment. A patient may also raise a concern they have with their dentist who will refer them to a specialist. Prosthodontist and oral surgeons also refer patients to each other. For example, a prosthodontist will do the preparation work for an implant but the surgical procedure will be completed by an oral surgeon. After the titanium implant post is in place, the prosthodontist will complete the rest of the implant.
Oral surgeons also refer patients to prosthodontists. For example, an oral surgeon may complete jaw surgery following a trauma then refer the patient to a prosthodontist for combined restorative dental and surgical planning to replace the missing teeth.
For more information on how we can improve the look or function of your teeth, book an appointment with one of our experienced prosthodontists by calling (08) 9321 1632 or contact us online.