Prosthodontics is the dental specialty focusing on the restoration and replacement of missing teeth. Prosthodontists collaborate with general dentists, specialists and other health care professionals to develop solutions to complex restorative dentistry. Prosthodontists are at the forefront of dental implantology, concentrating on the preservation of a healthy mouth, the creation of tooth replacements and dynamic smiles. One of the nine recognized dental specialties, prosthodontists receive rigorous training and experience, which entails three years of specialized training in an American Dental Association (ADA) accredited graduate education program.
Why a Prosthodontist?
A prosthodontist offers care for patients who are missing teeth, have congenital defects, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), problems arising from trauma and neglect, or significant damage to their existing teeth. The prosthodontist can aid in the rehabilitation of a complete dentition or merely in the replacement of one or two teeth. With the advent of dental implants as a viable means of replacing teeth, the prosthodontist's role has expanded, with a reserve of treatment options only dreamed of in years prior.
Advances in the health sciences and the delivery of sophisticated medical care have created a vibrant senior population. An upsurge in life expectancies and the inevitable aging of the Baby-Boom generation will fuel the special needs of a maturing population. Dental care and related technology are keeping pace. The Mayo Clinic observed, "Like gray hair and wrinkles, losing your teeth and getting dentures have long seemed an unavoidable part of growing older. But today, aging doesn't automatically mean you'll need dentures."
The role of the prosthodontist has become critical in maintaining the standard of care that our elder population needs to provide optimum dental function and esthetics.
Prosthodontics, Health, and the Quality of Life
Functional teeth or dental substitutes help to maintain general health and well being. Proper mastication of food is essential, especially as you grow older. The inability to properly and thoroughly chew food may result in poor nutrition, gastrointestinal disorders, health compromises and a loss of the quality of life. Much more than a necessity, dining is a fundamental social function which grows in importance as we age. To be able to eat without the embarrassment or pain associated with poor-fitting dentures or poorly constructed dental prostheses is a major goal of prosthodontic treatment.
Perhaps one of the legacies of the Baby-Boomer generation will be the lifelong recognition of the value of self awareness, esteem and personal image. Chronological years need not be a reflection of the aging process.
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