General Dentists vs. Prosthodontists


If you needed heart surgery, would you go to your primary care physician, or to a cardiac surgeon who specializes in the procedure? The answer seems obvious. Your primary care physician diagnoses illnesses, writes prescriptions, and does a lot of work to help keep you healthy. However, some procedures require a specialist.

The dynamic is the same for general dentists and prosthodontists. General dentists handle your standard oral health care. Prosthodontists such as Dr. John R. Phelps specialize in restorative dentistry. In addition to performing all the duties of a general dentist, Dr. Phelps has extra training and expertise in fixing broken teeth, veneers, implants, crowns, bridges, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

Read on to learn more about the difference between general dentists and prosthodontists.

What is a Prosthodontist?

Prosthodontists are specialized dentists who focus on restoration. They undergo additional extensive, high-level training following dental school, similar to a surgeon’s residency after medical school. For Dr. Phelps, this meant four years of dental school at Indiana University to become a doctor of dentistry, then three more years of education at IU’s American-Dental-Association-accredited graduate school to become a prosthodontist.

Prosthodontists are specially trained to restore your oral health to give you a functioning bite, strong teeth, and healthy gums.

What Do Prosthodontists Do?

Areas in which prosthodontists specialize include:

  • Cosmetic dentistry: Comprehensive, full-service treatments to give you a dazzling smile.
  • Dental implants: An artificial titanium root is implanted into your jawbone with a porcelain crown placed on top. The titanium root helps strengthen your jaw, and the crown is highly durable.
  • Crowns and bridges:Crowns fit over and cover a tooth that has become structurally unsound because of decay. They can help the tooth survive. Bridges are used to replace multiple missing teeth by placing a crown on the teeth on either side of the gap. These crowns hold the artificial replacement teeth in place.
  • Porcelain veneers: Veneers are custom-made, thin porcelain shells that are bonded to your teeth to fix cracks and chips.
  • Dentures: Full-mouth teeth replacements that are custom-fit to your mouth and facial structure.
  • TMJ: A misalignment of the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It can cause debilitating symptoms such as migraines, neck pain, shoulder pain, clicking jaw, ringing ears, and changes in your bite. As a prosthodontist, Dr. Phelps is equipped with the knowledge and tools to alleviate your symptoms and treat the underlying causes of your TMJ.

Why See a Prosthodontist?

Prosthodontists are highly trained and specialized to address issues such as:

  • Missing teeth
  • Mouth trauma
  • Cleft palate
  • Reconstruction following oral cancer
  • Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth

Contact Our Indianapolis Prosthodontist Today

Dr. Phelps has nearly 30 years of experience restoring his patients’ smiles and oral health. He is committed to providing the best possible care using his expertise, training, and the state-of-the-art technology in his office.

Dr. Phelps serves Carmel, Noblesville, and surrounding areas of Indianapolis. Call 317-548-6217 today to schedule a consultation.

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