Specialty GroupsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, as the specialty is called, is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Learn more about orthodontics.
Periodontists are dentists specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the gums and bone surrounding the teeth, and the mucosal tissues of the mouth, and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Learn more about periodontics.
A prosthodontist makes artificial replacements for missing or damaged natural structures. This can be as simple as making a crown for a damaged, decayed or malformed tooth, or it could involve the design and fabrication of facial parts for patients who have lost a nose or eye to cancer. Most of the time the job of a prosthodontist is somewhere between these extremes.
Patients normally see a prosthodontist when their dental restorative needs become more complex. Sometimes this will occur through years of wear and tear on the natural teeth. Other times it happens due to tooth decay or loss of supporting bone. Difficulties in matching shades or textures of the existing teeth may require specialty care.
In addition to dental and facial restorations, prosthodontists are involved in the use of dental implants. Implants act as natural root substitutes and provide a level of security to the dental prosthesis that was previously difficult to achieve. This advancement provides an improvement in the predictability of treatment.
So, what does a prosthodontist do? You might say we are the repair and replacement specialists in dentistry. Whether teeth are lacking in cosmetic appeal or in their ability to provide normal function, prosthodontists are there to help. If oral cancer strikes, the prosthodontist is an integral member of the team whose aim is to return the patient to normal function.
At Mayo, the Section of Prosthodontics consists of three consultants and two residents. There is a full- service dental laboratory and a highly trained paramedical staff. Care is provided in all aspects of prosthodontics to patients from the community, the nation and across national boundaries. Since many of our patients come from great distances, appointments are grouped to minimize the time spent in Rochester while undergoing treatment.
Dental specialists in this area diagnose and manage orofacial pain conditions, including temporomandibular disorders.
Their research interests are in psychophysical studies of orofacial pain.