Prosthodontics is the branch of dentistry dedicated to treating patients who have structural deficiencies in the teeth or oral tissues. A prosthodontist is a specialist in this field and is not the same as your general dentist. Here's an introduction to three important treatments that prosthodontists offer.
Dentures, Bridges, and Implants
Tooth loss and the need for prosthodontic care is not uncommon. In the U.S., 120 million people are missing one or more teeth according to the American College of Prosthodontists. The incidence of tooth loss is higher in the elderly population, so people are more likely to need treatment from a prosthodontist as they age.
Prosthodontists are trained in various methods for replacing missing teeth and restoring the functionality of damaged teeth. Prosthodontists can treat their patients with dentures, dental crowns and bridges, and dental implants. The extra training that prosthodontists undertake helps them achieve consistent, long-term results with dental prosthetics.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Restoring missing and damaged teeth isn't the only responsibility of a prosthodontist. These dental professionals are also trained to treat the maxillofacial tissues that are involved in sleep apnea. When muscles in the mouth and throat become relaxed during sleep, soft tissue can block the airway and cause obstructive sleep apnea.
Before resorting to more intrusive treatment options for sleep apnea, such as CPAP machines, a prosthodontist may try to treat your condition with an oral appliance. These devices make small adjustments to the position of the jaw or tongue to prevent them from blocking the airway while the patient sleeps.
TMJ Disorder Relief
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, is a condition that causes pain and tenderness in the tissues around the jaw. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw bone to the skull. TMJ disorders can cause headaches and jaw pain that extends into the face and ears.
Prosthodontists can treat TMJ disorders to restore their patient's ability to chew and speak without pain. Treatment focuses on keeping the jaw in a stable position that helps to reduce inflammation. This can be accomplished with a splint or bite guard. Your prosthodontist may supplement your TMJ treatment with muscle relaxers or physical therapy if needed.
Dental patients with impaired structure or function in the teeth and surrounding tissues are considered advanced cases. The additional training and expertise of a prosthodontist is necessary to achieve good outcomes for these patients. If you are in need of reconstructive dental work, consider seeking prosthodontist treatment.