Exploring this Job

Get a part-time or summer job in a prosthodontist's office to learn more about the day-to-day work involved in this field. Conduct an online search for job listings and also ask your school's career services office for help with finding employment opportunities. An informational interview with a prosthodontist is a great way to get the inside scoop on this career. Create a list of questions first before meeting with the prosthodontist, to make sure you get the advice needed to determine if this is a good job fit for you. The American College of Prosthodontics offers helpful information on the career section of its Web site, https://www.prosthodontics.org/careers/careers-in-prosthodontics. Read publications on prosthodontics to keep up with the techniques, tools, and materials used and current best practices in the field. Some publications will require membership to the association that publishes them, such as the ACA's Journal of Prosthodontics.

The Job

Prosthodontists are dental specialists who restore and replace missing teeth and treat other dental disorders to help patients have normal oral functioning, such as chewing and speaking. They also help to improve patients' appearance. The American College of Prosthodontists describes prosthodontists as specialists in "surgical implant placement, the simple to most complex implant supported restorations, laboratory and clinical training in aesthetics/cosmetics, crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays, removable complete and partial dentures, dental implants, temperomandibular joing (TMJ) problems, traumatic injuries to the mouth's structures, and congenital or birth anomalies, as well as oral cancer prosthetic reconstruction and continuing care."

Prosthodontists take impressions and measurements of patients' teeth and jaws to determine the shape and size of dental prostheses that will fit best. They use such things as dental articulators, face bows, and other materials to take these measurements. They may design and create the dental prostheses or they may supervise the dental laboratory workers and technicians who create the dental prostheses. When the prosthetic device is completed, they test it on patients, making adjustments as needed until the patient feels comfortable with the device.

Prosthodontists use permanent fixtures to replace missing teeth and restore other oral structures. they use fixtures such as implant-supported prostheses, crowns and bridges, and also removable devices such as dentures. They also treat patients who have had traumatic injuries to their teeth and jaws or who have diseases or birth defects. They also help patients improve the appearance of their teeth by closing tooth gaps, placing veneers on teeth that have defects, and bleaching and whitening discolored teeth.

The work entails collaborating with dental assistants, technicians, and other dental and medical professionals to develop dental treatment and dental health maintenance plans for patients. Prosthodontists are also responsible for documenting their work, such as writing and maintaining information in patients' files in written and/or electronic form.