What is the Difference Between a Prosthodontist and a Cosmetic Dentist?

At TM Prosthodontics, we often have patients ask us to explain the difference between a prosthodontist and a cosmetic dentist.  There is understandable confusion, especially since “prosthodontist” is not a term most people hear every day. Knowing these differences is important when considering your choices for tooth replacement therapy, cosmetic dentistry, or any oral specialty.


In short, nearly any dentist can call himself or herself a cosmetic dentist.  General dentists can take a few courses to learn various cosmetic dental procedures and then describe themselves cosmetic dentists.


On the other hand, a prosthodontist is a specialist recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).  After dental school, prosthodontists complete three to four more years of training in an ADA-approved program in order to learn the intricacies of cosmetic dentistry. There are just 3200 prosthodontists in the US today, compared to some 170,000 general dentists, all with additional specialized training in rigorous clinical and didactic preparation in the basic sciences, head and neck anatomy, biomedical sciences, biomaterial science, function of occlusion (bite), TMJ, and treatment planning and experience treating full-mouth reconstruction cases, and esthetics.


Due to this extended training, a prosthodontist is far more specialized and advanced in the restoration of teeth than a cosmetic dentist.  This can include anything from simple crowns to full-mouth restorative procedures or surgeries.


In addition to regular cleanings and routine dental care, some of the procedures provided by a prosthodontist include:
what's the difference between a prosthodontist and a cosmetic dentist

  • – Aesthetic reconstructive dentistry, which is the most advanced option for providing dental implants to patients missing one or more sections of teeth.


  • – Dental veneers and bonded restorations, which can be used to reshape and improve the appearance of existing teeth.


  • – Dental crowns, which are prosthetic teeth used to repair damaged teeth.  They are often formed from porcelain, metal, or a combination of the two.


  • – Dental bridges, which serve as a replacement for missing teeth.  These are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, as they are permanently attached to tooth roots, dental implants or the natural teeth.


  • – Removable dentures, which can be ideal treatments for patients who have lost some or all of their teeth.


  • – Jaw treatments for problems caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), snoring disorders or sleep apnea.  They can also perform some jaw reconstructions after surgeries for oral cancer.

Your prosthodontist is a highly trained dental specialist, with full training in general dentistry as well. TM Prosthodontics also specializes in facial trauma restoration and complete oral reconstruction.

When choosing between a cosmetic dentist and a prosthodontist, it is important to consider the amount of work that is required and the necessary skill needed in order to achieve the desired result.  Always ask for before and after photos of other patients in order to assess the quality of a cosmetic dentist’s or prosthodontist’s results.

Posted: Wednesday May 20, 2015