So, you're at your dentist for your bi-annual check-up when they suggest you might need some bridgework done. Or perhaps you need some veneers. Maybe that tooth that's bothering you needs to be extracted and replaced with an implant. The next thing your dentist says is that they'd like to refer you to a prosthodontist.

Now you have a question. What is a prosthodontist and why should you visit one? A prosthodontist is a dentist who specializes in restoring and replacing teeth, returning them to their proper form and function. Your dentist may want you to visit one because they know that prosthodontists have gone through additional training to learn even more about dental health and tooth and jaw restoration. A prosthodontist is uniquely qualified to take care of your teeth.

There are a multitude of reasons your dentist might refer you to a practice such as Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics. If your dentist has suggested making an appointment with a prosthodontist, keep reading to learn why that may be.

What is a Prosthodontist?

Once your dentist has told you that they think you should see a prosthodontist, you may immediately want to know exactly what that is. A prosthodontist is a specialist who works with those who have complex dental or facial issues that need to be addressed. They have trained for several years beyond dental school to become skilled at dealing with problems such as missing teeth and imperfect jaw structures, anything that involves restoration.

The word prosthodontist comes from the terms "protho," meaning replacement, and "dontist," meaning dealing with teeth. These are the experts you want taking care of things when there has been some sort of trauma in your mouth.

Some of the dental procedures you might visit a prosthodontist for include:

If you're looking to restore your smile, you want someone with advanced training to see you through it.

What Can a Prosthodontist Do?

As stated above, a prosthodontist has been specially trained to work on restoring and replacing teeth, as well as working on other areas around the mouth which may have been damaged. At Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics, we will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that will leave you smiling. Here are a few examples of some procedures you might have done in a prosthodontist's office.

Crowns and Bridges

A cracked or chipped tooth may need to be covered with a crown. A crown is a dental appliance that has been designed to fit right over your existing tooth. A crown can be made from metals, porcelain, ceramics, or resin. Porcelain crowns are often the preferred material since the color is close to that of natural teeth.

The process of getting a crown done is fairly straightforward. First, you may or may not need a root canal. Once that's done, your prosthodontist will prepare your tooth to take a crown. An impression of this and the surrounding teeth will then be taken so the crown can be made especially for you. Finally, once that crown is ready, it is secured with glue to your tooth. Sometimes, multiple crowns serve as a bridge to cover one or more missing teeth.

Dental Implants

If you are missing teeth due to an accident or an infection, you may choose to have them replaced with dental implants.

A dental implant is a device that is installed right into your jawbone. It has three parts: a post, an abutment, and a crown. The post is implanted into your jawbone, then the jaw is allowed to heal. An abutment is placed on top of that, then the gums around it are allowed to heal. The abutment holds the crown that's made to replace the tooth you lost. Once the crown is attached to the abutment, the procedure is complete.

The dental implant process can be long, but an experienced prosthodontist will be able to see you through every step.


You may not want to go through the hassle of getting implants put in—you'd rather get dentures to replace your missing teeth. Dentures are replacement teeth that are removable. A prosthodontist can help with these, too. They have been trained in the art of fashioning dental appliances that perfectly fit in your mouth. Dentures can replace a full set of teeth when all of them have been removed, or they can be attached to a metal frame that goes over your natural teeth to fill in a gap caused by missing teeth.

Your prosthodontist will take impressions of the area where you will need dentures, as well as make any necessary adjustments to your gums or jawbone. Once your dentures have been made, the prosthodontist will ensure they fit well, tweaking them as needed. Should your dentures ever break or stop feeling comfortable, your prosthodontist can get them back in working order.


It is not uncommon for teeth to become discolored or stained over the years. Liquids such as coffee or wine can affect how your teeth look. If the root of your tooth dies, your teeth can also lose their whiteness. Teeth also become chipped or cracked for many reasons, including hard foods and accidents.

Veneers are thin shells colored to look like natural teeth that are attached to the front of a tooth to help restore whiteness and a rounded shape. They are usually made from porcelain. A prosthodontist can expertly apply these appliances. The process of putting on a veneer is simple. The prosthodontist will prepare the tooth—some enamel may need to be removed—then affix the veneer to the tooth's surface with a special glue. A veneer will last, on average, ten to twelve years.

Occlusal Disease and Oral or Maxillofacial Surgery

Occlusal disease can manifest as muscle pain, tooth sensitivity, gum recession, or a loss of bone support, to name just a few symptoms. An oral or maxillofacial problem might look like a misaligned bite or wear and tear on your teeth that is not normal. Both occlusal disease and an oral/maxillofacial problem can cause significant pain. A prosthodontist can help solve any of these problems. After an exam and a consultation, a plan can be developed to restore any damage done to your teeth and relieve your pain.

Were You Referred to a Prosthodontist?

If you're in the Spokane, Washington, area, and your dentist has told you to see a prosthodontist, consider Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics. No matter what you're dealing with, we can come up with a solution you will be happy with. Contact us today, and we'll have you smiling again in no time!