What is an Endodontist? And why can’t my general dental just do the root canal for me?

A common question asked by new patients that come to our office is “Why can’t my general dental just do the root canal for me?” This is a great question and we love to give our patients insight about why their dentist referred them out to us. If your dentist has ever referred you out to a specialist for certain dental procedures (most commonly an Oral Surgeon or Endodontist) this is because your dentist cares about the quality of work you get done and wants you to receive the best possible treatment with the best possible prognosis and success rate. Just as in Healthcare, Sometimes your family physician sends you to see an optometrist for your eyes, or a cardiologist for your heart. These are two examples of specialist who have extra training in specific fields. If your issue at hand is more difficult to diagnosis than usual or calls for additional tests/attention, your physician will refer you out to a specialist and the same goes for dentistry.

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in saving teeth through different procedures which involve the pulp (nerve) and roots of teeth. “Endodontist” comes from the Greek words “endo” meaning inside and the word “odont” meaning tooth. All dentists are trained to treat and diagnose diseases of the pulp. However, some teeth can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat. For example, certain general dentists will do their own root canals on anterior or bicuspid teeth, because these teeth are easier to access and only have one or two roots. However, with a molar tooth, these are far back in the patient’s mouth giving the dentist limited access and have 3 to 4 canals. Which is a reason why some patients are referred to the endodontist.

An endodontist, as defined by the American Board of Endodontists, is a dental specialist that treats the diseased and injured dental pulp, root and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Endodontists receive a “certificate in Endodontics” after an additional 2-3 years of training in an accredited dental program after dental school.

Every patient that walks in and out of our door is in need of special attention for their tooth. We pride ourselves in being the specialist your general dentist chose to ease their patients of their worries and surprise them with how easy and painless their procedure went.

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