Prosthodontics is the dental specialty dealing with the prosthetic restoration of missing teeth and associated head and neck structures. Prosthodontists specialize in the restoration of oral function by creating prostheses and restorations (i.e. complete dentures, crowns, implant retained/supported restorations).
Prosthodontic training requires an additional 3-4 years of training after obtaining a dental degree (D.D.S. or D.M.D.) in an ADA-approved program. Prosthodontists usually see more complex dental rehabilitative cases that general dentists would rather refer out than tackle themselves.
Example of a fixed implant supported bridge.
The specialty is divided into three areas of emphasis.
Fixed prosthodontics deals with restoring complex dental situations usually dealing with "fixed" prostheses, that is crowns and bridges and multiple dental implants which are not removable.
General dentists provide fixed prostheses which may involve several teeth, while fixed prosthodontists treat larger, more complicated situations.
Maxillofacial prosthodontics is the subspecialty of prosthodontics. It is the prosthetic (artificial) rehabilitation of missing oral, and head and neck structures, above and beyond missing teeth.
Maxillofacial prosthodontists see many different kinds of patients including cancer survivors, birth defect patients, and trauma patients, as well as more unusual conditions such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Auricular (Ear) prosthesis seems far afield from dentistry, however it uses many of the same techniques. Prosthodontists at Cleveland Clinic perform this and many other unusual prosthetic services.