Choosing Between an Endodontist and General Dentist

Gentle Dental

An endodontist holding a large tooth replica

General dentists provide invaluable treatments that can help preserve the health and beauty of your smile. In some cases, however, patients are better off consulting an endodontist for specialized treatments. But what is an endodontist? And when should you see one instead of your general dentist? Here’s what you should know.

What Is Endodontics In Dentistry?

When a tooth suffers serious infection or damage to its pulp, root canal therapy can help preserve its function. But what type of dentist does root canals? 

An endodontist is essentially a root canal doctor who specializes in endodontic procedures which address problems with a tooth’s 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 dental endodontics specialists, who can then decide the best way to alleviate discomfort and preserve tooth function. 

Your general dentist is more likely to refer you to a root canal specialist if you have pain in a tooth or a history of injury to a tooth which could impact the pulp or roots. 

Endodontics Dentist Specialties

In addition to providing root canal therapy, endodontics dentist specialties include 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.

Difference Between Dentist And Endodontist

While general dentists can and do provide root canal therapy, many people prefer to visit endodontists because they have more training and experience. Compared to a general dentist, root canal specialists will have two extra years of education beyond dental school. They will also be 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.

So should you bypass your general dentist for a root canal specialist? In most cases, it’s best or even necessary to start your treatment with your family dentist. 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.

Get you closer to your perfect smile. Book your next appointment at a Gentle Dental location near you.