Prosthodontist: Education and Career Information
Dentistry is a very lucrative field to work in, but there are also a few specialized positions that can be just as rewarding. A prosthodontist is one of those positions. This specialty goes beyond general dentistry and is part of a niche area of dentistry. If you are interested in dentistry, but want to do something a little differently, this may be a career option for you.
What does a prosthodontist do?
A prosthodontist is a specialty dentist that specializes in the replacement and restoration of teeth, namely, for cosmetic purposes. They conduct procedures that include veneers, dental implants, bridges, crowns, onlays, inlays and partial and complete dentures. A prosthodontist is concerned with patients who have partial or complete teeth loss. They diagnose conditions, plan treatment for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the teeth after the procedures, restore esthetics and comfort, fix jaw conditions, and use prosthesis when needed.
How much does a prosthodontist earn?
A prosthodontist makes a very lucrative salary, with the yearly average being around $229,000 on the high scale. Self-employed prosthodontists make even more. This is contingent on years of experience, education, facility where the prosthodontist works, and other factors that make a significant impact on the salary structure. Some of the best paying areas are Hawaii, Georgia, California, Oregon and New Hampshire.
What skills are needed to become a prosthodontist?
There are a number of skills needed to become a prosthodontist, which include:
Reading Comprehension: A prosthodontist must be able to understand and comprehend written material to keep up with documentation, trends and other information that helps them do their job. Being able to read and write clearly is a must when dealing with patients and other professionals. A high level of reading comprehension is needed to stay on top of the trends.
Science: The prosthodontist must be able to use scientific methods and variables to solve problems.
Technology: This position must be able to utilize a variety of software that will aid in the development of the items needed for the patients, and to keep records and maintenance under control.
Equipment: This position works with highly sensitive equipment. Being able to operate this equipment and keep it well maintained is key. The equipment used in the dentistry field is consistently evolving and being improved to maintain consistency and variety in the world of dentistry.
Decision making: The prosthodontist must be able to make sound decisions that will make a positive impact on the patient’s well-being.
Critical Thinking: The prosthodontist must be able to use logic and reasoning to identify solutions to problems and identify weaknesses.
Active Learning: Working with patients is a process, being able to actively learn from patients and throughout the process is important.
Problem Solving: Being able to identify and solve problems to help formulate opinions that will have a positive outcome on the treatment.
Active Listening: Being able to understand what the patients are saying and what they need is important. It is also important to be able to listen to other healthcare professionals on what is going on in the industry so the new trends and practices can be applied.
Clinical experience is required for each student in a dental program. This includes experience while in the dental program, and then a 3-year post-doctoral residency program in prosthodontics.
There are a number of steps involved in becoming a prosthodontist. The first step on the road to becoming a prosthodontist is to enter into a bachelor’s degree program. This is a four-year program. Although the requirement for dental school does not designate any specific major, seeking a major that deals with the physical sciences, such as biology will work well. Coursework under this program includes English, psychology, and biology. If you find a pre-dental program that will confer the bachelor’s degree, this is one of the smartest ways to attain the goal.
Once you have entered into the bachelor’s degree program, identifying which dental schools you would like to apply to is the next step. The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is required at least one year prior to applying to dental school. This is a detailed and extensive exam, which consists of four multiple-choice tests. It is administered by The American Dental Association (ADA), and is one of the top criteria for selection into dental programs.
Once the student has entered into a dental school, there are four additional years to complete. During this time, students are trained in dental anatomy and epidemiology, dental materials, mouth disease diagnosis and pharmacology. Upon completion of the program, students will earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery, or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree.
Once this degree has been conferred, students must pass both parts of the National Board Dental Examination. This examination consists of both written and clinical tests and must be passed to obtain a license.
Residency training follows, with a three-year post-doctoral residency program in prosthodontics. These residency programs provide hands-on experience in oral restoration, dental implants, treatments, clinical and technical skills, biostatistics, oncology, pathology, oral prosthetic devices and oral biology. This also includes an extensive amount of research.
There is no additional certification required for prosthodontists, but most individuals who have taken the time to go through these steps go ahead and seek this distinction. This involves a four-part examination of one written test and three oral exams. A prosthodontist must recertify every eight years to stay in the loop on the trends and changes within the field.
This is definitely a career path that takes a while to achieve, but can be well worth the time and effort involved. There are also a number of financial benefits to becoming a prosthodontist, and the salary expectations continue to increase as they move into private practice.