In a Utopian context, a tooth should survive throughout life, unscathed by disease or trauma. However, in the real world, a tooth endures vicissitudes, often necessitating clinical intervention for ensuring its viability. Assuming a pessimistic stance, from nascence to its final demise, a tooth may undergo the following pathological sequelae: incipient fissure or proximal caries, intracoronal decay, pronounced multi-surface caries, endodontic involvement, extracoronal restora- tion, intra- and periradicular compromises with or without periodontal involvement leading to extraction, and eventual replacement by either a denture (removable or fixed) or dental implants. On an optimistic note, it is not a fait accompli that these events are inevitable; clinical intervention at any stage can prevent progression to the next, more destructive, eventuality. All these aforementioned stages require some form of clinical intervention for salvaging or replacing lost teeth. This is the basic premise of prosthodontics.
Prosthodontics is defined as restoring and/or replacing missing teeth. At times, the line dividing restorative dentistry and prosthodon- tics can be vague. As a generality, restorative dentistry is concerned with restoring teeth directly, involving a single visit, while prostho-
dontics is restoring or replacing teeth indirectly, invariably involving multiple visits, usually with impression and employing a dental labora- tory. Furthermore, prosthodontics is a multidisciplinary subject, involving specialties such as periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics, implantology and oral surgery.
Besides resolving pathology, another factor requiring consideration is vanity. In an ever-increasing appearance-conscious society, elective cosmetic dental treatment is burgeoning. Although, at times, this type of treatment may be questionable, the communication revolution has created immense patient awareness leading to an escalating demand for patient-driven treatment planning. Hence, cosmetic or aesthetic treatment is now a major part of prosthodontics.
The purpose of this book is to describe the main concepts of pros- thodontics. Its aim is to act as a platform for further reading on a chosen aspect of prosthodontics. The ordered format of the ‘At a Glance’ series accelerates learning, ensures relevance to daily clinical practice, and avoids the tedium and frustration of a verbose text.