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Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics

The Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics conducts undergraduate (dental student) education in the fields of Pre-Clinical Operative Dentistry, Dental Anatomy, Occlusion, Biomaterials, Esthetics, and Clinical Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry. Additionally, faculty members conduct research and scientific studies in Biomaterials, Biomimetics, and Educational Research. A portion of the clinical and laboratory research occurs within the Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics.

The department also conducts undergraduate and graduate education in the fields of Fixed, Removable and Implant Prosthodontics. The three-year advanced education residency entails specialty training in the fields of Removable, Fixed, Implant and Maxillofacial Prosthodontics. A one-year Prosthodontics Preceptorship is also available to dentists who would like to increase their knowledge and hone their clinical prosthodontics skills.


The department, while emphasizing both Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics, also includes disciplines such as biomaterials and biomimetics, dental anatomy, occlusion, operative dentistry, and esthetic dentistry.

Restorative Dentistry: The branch of Dentistry related to procedures in which a material or prosthesis restores or replaces lost tooth structure, teeth, or oral tissues.

Biomaterials: Substances other than a drug that can be used for any period of time as part of a system that treats, augments, or replaces any tissue, organ, or function of the body.

Biomimetics: The study and development of synthetic systems that mimic the formation, function, or structure of biologically produced substances and materials and biological mechanisms and processes.

Dental Anatomy: The branch of anatomy dealing with the study of the morphology of teeth, their location, position, and relationships.

Esthetic Dentistry: The field of dentistry primarily concerned with the appearance of the dentition and surrounding tissues as achieved through their arrangement, form, and color, especially with respect to the appearance of dental restorations. Esthetic Dentistry addresses those subjective and objective elements and principles underlying the beauty and attractiveness of an object, design or principle in and around the oral cavity.

Occlusion: The study of the relationship between the incising or masticating surfaces of the maxillary or mandibular teeth or tooth analogues.

Operative Dentistry: The phase of clinical dentistry concerned with the restoration of parts of existing teeth that are defective through disease, trauma, or abnormal development, to the state of normal function, health, and esthetics, including preventive, diagnostic, biological, mechanical, and therapeutic techniques, as well as material and instrument science and application.

Prosthodonticsis the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, esthetics and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.

Prosthodontics is generally subdivided into the following disciplines:

  • Fixed prosthodontics: The branch of prosthodontics concerned with the replacement and/or restoration of teeth with artificial substitutes that are not readily removed from the mouth.
  • Removable prosthodontics: The branch concerned with the replacement of teeth and contiguous structures for the edentulous or partially edentulous patients by artificial substitutes that are readily removed from the mouth.
  • Implant prosthodontics: The phase of prosthodontics concerning the replacement of missing teeth and/or associated structures by restorations that are attached to dental implants.
  • Maxillofacial prosthetics: The branch concerned with the restoration and/or replacement of the stomatognathic and craniofacial structures with prostheses that may or may not be removed on a regular or elective basis.

Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry offers an advanced education program in prosthodontics, leading to a Certificate of Proficiency and a Master of Science in Dentistry degree. The program provides advanced instruction and clinical training to prepare residents for the practice of prosthodontics. Residents must demonstrate proficiency in the examination, diagnosis and reconstruction of complex edentulous, partially edentulous, and dentate oral conditions. The program complies with the standards established by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. Students are qualified and prepared for examination by the American Board of Prosthodontics.

The curriculum relates basic science principles to the practice of prosthodontics and is consistent with the expanding scope of knowledge in prosthodontics as determined by the American College of Prosthodontics and the American Dental Association. Clinical applications are emphasized while maintaining significant didactic and research activities throughout the course of study. Direct patient care constitutes approximately 60 percent of resident activity. In depth instruction and patient treatment involving dental implant therapy is an integral component of the clinical and didactic activities. Residents are encouraged to both surgically place and restore dental implants. Instruction in laboratory technology is an integral part of all treatment.

Graduate courses are conducted in biostatistics, human growth and development, anatomy, embryology, histology, oral biology, oral pathology, immunology, microbiology, and pharmacology. Current and classic literature is reviewed related to prosthodontics and accomplished on a regular basis. Interdisciplinary seminars emphasize the importance of comprehensive dental care in the treatment of complicated oral conditions. Treatment planning presentations are conducted on a regular basis. Mentored rotations at programs are available including M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (two months, full time) and undergraduate dental school teaching both preclinical and clinical.

In accordance with mandates set forth by the American Dental Association in the Accreditation Standards for Advanced Specialty Education Programs in Prosthodontics, all students are involved in an original, independent research project. A Master of Science in Dentistry degree is awarded upon fulfillment of all program requirements, completion of research, production and acceptance of a thesis, and successful public defense of the independent research effort.

Four postdoctoral students are accepted into the Advanced Prosthodontics Program each year.