Prosthodontics FAQ

The Specialty of Prosthodontics is the oldest recognized specialty in dentistry. There are only two Michigan Board Certified Prosthodontists in the west Michigan area. General dentists treat patients with some forms of Prosthodontic care, such as crowns and dentures, on a regular basis, while referring more difficult procedures to a licensed, trained, and experienced specialist. Some general dentists feel comfortable with selected Prosthodontic procedures, while others feel the need to refer. If you (or your dentist) feel that you need simple or complex care in a Prosthodontic office, or need a second opinion, please ask for a referral or just call Dr. Doezema at 1-616-954-2288. We always welcome new patients.

After graduating from four years of dental school, an additional two years of clinical training, academic classes, and master’s thesis research, from an American Dental Association accredited graduate program, leads to a Master’s Degree in Prosthodontics. Following those six years of training, the Prosthodontic candidate must submit his credentials, selected patient histories, and his research, to the Michigan State Board of Dentistry. The Prosthodontic candidate then must undergo and pass a written and oral examination given by the Michigan State Board of Dentistry to become fully licensed and Board Certified to practice Prosthodontics in the State of Michigan.

Prosthodontics is defined as the replacement of missing oral structures. Technically, a filling is a Prosthodontic procedure. Practically speaking, Prosthodontics is the repair or replacement of damaged or missing teeth and other oral tissues.

Prosthodontists treat both simple and complex oral conditions. Prosthodontists are especially trained and experienced to diagnose, treatment plan, and coordinate more complex treatment with the general dentist, the Prosthodontist, and other dental specialists. Dr. Doezema will examine your mouth thoroughly, then if needed, additional diagnostic measures can be used. X-rays can see what is not visible to the eye. Close up digital photographs of your mouth can be displayed on the computer screen and printed for your viewing. Impressions of your mouth can be taken for study models. Dr. Doezema will condense all of the diagnostic information into a written treatment plan, with printed photos of your mouth, and with a fee schedule.

Treatment procedures include:

  1. Crowns (gold and porcelain) placed on natural teeth and implants.
  2. Veneers to enhance shape and color of teeth.
  3. Fixed bridges placed on natural teeth and implants to replace missing teeth.
  4. Removable partial dentures stabilized on natural teeth and implants to replace a few to several missing teeth.
  5. Conventional complete dentures resting on gum tissue.
  6. Implant based complete dentures both fixed and removable.
  7. Immediate dentures designed to transition a patient from failing natural teeth to dentures.
  8. Oral rehabilitation for trauma victims.
  9. Oral rehabilitation for patients with genetic or developmental abnormalities of the teeth and jaws.
  10. Overall diagnosis and treatment planning of Prosthetic needs using, x-rays, study models, intra-oral photographs, planning of implant placement with the surgeon, coordinating treatment with patient, general dentist, and other specialists.

Dr. Doezema has been in private practice in Grand Rapids since 1974. Prosthodontics has changed greatly since 1974. At that time, only a patient’s own natural teeth, gum tissue, and bone, were available to create or rehabilitate a smile and chewing function. Crowns, fixed bridges, and partial dentures were excellent restorations for those patients with some or all of their teeth, but patients with no teeth could only be treated with complete dentures.

In the early seventies, the first dental implants began to expand the treatment options available for those patients with no teeth. In 1976, Dr. Doezema, along with some oral surgeons in the Grand Rapids area, were the first in the West Michigan area to become trained in the Staple Implant, developed by Dr. Irwin Small. This implant allowed patients to anchor a removable lower denture to a firm foundation. The Staple Implant was an excellent treatment, but it was soon surpassed by other implant designs, such as those by Nobel BioCare. Dr. Doezema still sees and maintains some of the original Staple Implant patients from those early days and still marvels at the miracle of implant stabilization for dentures.

Dental materials, treatment procedures, implant research, and implant patient care have all advanced each year since that time. This has enabled Prosthodontists and surgeons to rehabilitate patients missing just a single tooth, to all of their teeth, with everything from single crowns on implants, to fixed bridges on implants, to fixed or removable complete dentures on implants. Dr. Doezema is also trained in, and has access to computer guided implant placement using CAT scan technology. Fortunately, not all patients need complex care involving the latest methods and technology, but it is reassuring to know that this level of care is available if you need it by calling Dr. Doezema at 1-616-954-2288.

Dr. Doezema is a Prosthodontist, a dental specialist who has received two years of advanced clinical and academic post graduate education beyond dental school, and has been licensed as a Prosthodontist by the State of Michigan, in addition to his general dental license.

Dental treatment procedures commonly carried out at Dr. Doezema’s office include single crowns and fixed bridges (anchored to both natural teeth and dental implants), removable partial dentures (anchored to both natural teeth and dental implants), removable complete dentures stabilized by smooth gum tissue and bone (or with the help of dental implants), and fixed dentures anchored by multiple dental implants. The number and location of the dental implants are determined by Dr. Doezema, then surgically placed by an oral surgeon or periodontal surgeon. Common layman terms, such as “dental bridge” or “partial bridge” or “partial denture”, can be misleading and have multiple meanings. All are related to tooth replacement of some form, fixed or removable.

Please visit our Dental Information page for more descriptions of the procedures and for some examples.


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