Prosthodontist Vs. General Dentist

Prosthodontists and general dentists both provide dental care to patients with dental health needs. They focus on different areas of treatment and have different training requirements. Continue reading to compare these careers in greater detail.

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Comparing Prosthodontists to General Dentists

Prosthodontists are dentists who have completed additional training to specialize in their field. General dentists, however, tend to earn a higher salary than prosthodontists. Their work environments are similar but general dentists treat a wider range of general dental issues while prosthodontists specialize in working with implants and appliances.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Prosthodontists Doctoral degree $126,050 17%
General Dentists Doctoral degree $153,900 17%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Prosthodontists vs. General Dentists

Prosthodontists and general dentists both see patients and assess their dental health needs. It's common for general dentists to see regular patients for check-ups and dental care throughout the patients' lives. When general dentists identify a significant issue they may refer patients to specialists, such as prosthodontists. Prosthodontists see patients who have very specific dental needs, such as missing teeth or problems with their jaw. Some of the patients they treat may have difficulty speaking or chewing if a significant portion of their teeth, gums and jaw have been damaged or need to be replaced. They specialize in determining how to treat patients, inserting implants and appliances, and teaching patients how to care for the replacement parts they receive.


Prosthodontists are specially trained to replace parts of a person's mouth. Once they've completed dental school, prosthodonists are required to spend an additional three years of training to work in their field. It's most common for them to work in dental offices but some may also be employed in doctors' offices. Dexterity is important for prosthodontists because they spend a lot of time operating on patients who need to have parts of their mouth replaced. Attention to detail is also important so that they can precisely place the new parts. Travel isn't required and the hours that prosthodontists work can vary depending on where they're employed.

Job responsibilities of a prosthodontist include:

  • Examining patients
  • Reviewing X-rays of the patient's mouth
  • Developing a strategy for treating the patient's condition
  • Preparing dental appliances such as crowns or dentures
  • Operating on patients
  • Teaching patients how to care for implants or dental appliances

General Dentists

General dentists are responsible for standard dental care for their patients. They typically work in their own dental office or in a dental practice with other dentists. Regular daytime hours are common for these professionals, although they may also work some hours on evenings or weekends. Communication skills and customer service skills are important for these medical professionals because they interact directly with patients and ensure that they are prepared for treatments, understand how to care for themselves following treatment and have confidence in their abilities to effectively treat their condition. Since general dentists do not have a dental specialty they are prepared to start their careers once they've completed dental school. Those who wish to advance to a specialization must complete the appropriate residency requirements while dentists pursuing research opportunities must take several years of postgraduate studies.

Job responsibilities of a general dentist include:

  • Overseeing dental assistants and other staff
  • Identifying dental health issues
  • Applying treatments to patients' teeth
  • Gathering data to make dentures or other dental products
  • Updating patient files
  • Education patients about how to care for their teeth and gums

Related Careers

There are a number of other dental specializations that those interested in dentistry may want to consider pursuing. Aspiring dentists and prosthodontists may wish to use the links here to explore the duties and training requirements for orthodontists and dental specialists.

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