Prosthodontists and General Dentists, What Are The Differences?


Prosthodontics is the specialized field of dentistry concerned with diagnosing, planning and executing restorative and cosmetic treatments. Dentists who choose to specialize in prosthodontics must complete three or four more years of dedicated training following dental school.

A prosthodontist is in essence an architect, who formulates a comprehensive treatment plan and informs the patient as to what is possible. Missing or defective teeth can be extremely detrimental to self-esteem and self-confidence. Using the latest technology, our Boca Raton prosthodontist is able to fill these gaps with functional, natural-looking teeth that boost confidence and enhance the smile.

General Dentistry

A general dentist is your primary care dental provider. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and preventive education.

All practicing general dentists have earned either a DDS or DMD degree (doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine, respectively). There is no difference between the two degrees or the curriculum requirements that dentists must meet. Some schools simply award the one degree, while others award the other.

Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to become a general dentist. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist; such as a prosthodontist. (source: webmd)

The Main Differences

General dentists earn a four-year dental degree at an accredited institution and then immediately begin accepting patients. Prosthodontists are specialists recognized by the American Dental Association who have trained for at least two more years beyond dental school to become the architects of dental reconstruction.

General Dentists and Prosthodontists do crowns, dental implants, veneers and false teeth/dentures. However, in four years of dental school the requirements are minimal. Most dental school requirements simply scratch the surface of crowns, bridges and denture procedures. Most dental students do not complete a single dental implant case. That means that most general dentists have not done one implant case when they open their doors.While On the other hand, prosthodontists have completed a multitude of complex dental treatments before they receive their certificate, much more than several years of practice in an average general dental office would provide. A prosthodontist focuses specifically on these complex treatments for the entire 2-4 years of training beyond dental school.


What type of patient visits a prosthodontist?

There are many types of patients that recognize value in treatment by a prosthodontist.

These patient are often:

  • Looking to achieve the highest quality esthetic / restorative outcomes.
  • Had significant issues with prior esthetic/restorative work and seeks repair or replacement.
  • Understanding that their insurance plan (PPO) offers limited or no coverage beyond the annual limit, and is willing to look outside their insurance network.
  • Value the advice and treatment of a specialist.

What is a Prosthodontist?

Prosthodontists complete an additional 3-4 years of specialized training in advanced treatment planning, restorative / esthetic procedures, implantology and full mouth reconstruction following general dentistry schooling. Recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as a dental specialties; it is the only specialty providing an ADA accredited degree covering the sequencing and execution of complex restorative (prosthetic) and esthetic (often called cosmetic) dental procedures.

Who benefits from a prosthodontist?

Most anyone. From a single tooth restoration to the complete restoration of extremely worn teeth, pleasing esthetic and functional results are critical to both the patient and the practitioner. Prosthodontists are uniquely qualified by their training, the selection of dental materials, and the use of various types of restorations, to find the solution that fulfills each patient’s desires.

Has technology taken the skill out prosthodontics, making some procedures like implants and crowns routine, and in turn, making treatment based on price alone?

Although dental technology has significantly advanced in recent years and is an important tool to be embraced, hand skills are critical and often overlooked component of superior dentistry. Implants, starting with extractions and placements, are surgical procedures requiring years of training and experience. Crowns start with the prosthodontist’s vision of the final product-part science, part art.

Are dental implant procedures more expensive than traditional restoration services?

Not generally. Single tooth implants are often comparable to the cost of a bridge to replace a tooth. Dental implant prices vary based upon the materials used as well as the complexity of the placement. Deficient bone volume also increases the price of dental implant treatment.

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