Endodontist vs General Dentist: When You Should See Each

Gentle Dental

Root canal surgery and Endodontic surgical tools

General dentists provide invaluable treatments that can help preserve the health and beauty of your smile. In some case, however, patients are better off consulting a specialist. If you’re not sure when to see an endodontist instead of your general dentist, here’s what you should know.

What Is an Endodontist?

Endodontists are dentists who specialize in endodontic procedures which address problems with the root and pulp. All dentists receive some level of training in endodontic diagnosis and therapy. With that said, in complex cases, dentists will typically refer patients to endodontic specialists, who can then decide the best way to alleviate discomfort and preserve tooth function.

In addition to providing root canal therapy, endodontists can perform surgery to fix a tooth that didn’t completely heal after a root canal. They can also perform apicoectomies, which are surgeries that extract the tip of a tooth’s roots. While endodontists typically provide treatments that address infection and severe decay, they can also save teeth that have been cracked or damaged by injury.

Why See an Endodontist?

Your general dentist is more likely to refer you to an endodontist if you have pain in a tooth or a history of injury to a tooth which could impact the pulp or roots. While general dentists can and do provide root canal therapy, many people prefer to visit endodontists because they have more training and experience. In addition to having two extra years of education beyond dental school, endodontists are typically better trained in, and have more experience with, advanced technology which is designed to enhance results, streamline the process and ensure patient comfort.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, the average general dentist will only perform about two root canals per week, while the average endodontist performs 25. This level of experience generally results in a smoother, more comfortable process.

A Team Effort

It’s highly likely that your general dentist will refer you to an endodontist if he or she believes you need a dental specialist for treatment or further evaluation. Ideally, your dentist and endodontist will work in concert to address problematic dental issues and preserve your long-term dental health. Your general dentist is essential to keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy. He or she is also a great resource when you have problems with your teeth. When dental issues impact the root or pulp, however, it’s good to have a specialist with extensive training and experience.

It’s also important to remember that you have the power to keep your teeth healthy at home by brushing twice and flossing at least once daily. By practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining regular dental checkups, you can reduce your risk of cavities, gum disease and serious dental issues. If you do suffer a serious dental issue, however, your general dentist will often refer you to a Specialist who can provide the care that you need.