Your dentist has informed you that you have an infection inside the root canal of your tooth. You need a root canal treatment to successfully clean it out. Can your regular dentist perform it, or should you see an endodontist instead?
While the majority of dentists regularly perform root canals, your dentist should have a recommendation, knowing their own capabilities and experience. Also, your dentist may realize that their available tools will not work well on the type or shape of tooth that is infected.
The information below could also give you a better sense of the difference between endodontists and general dentists and help inform you of the direction you want to take.
Dentists’ Training in Root Canal Treatments
Your family or general dentist gives you regular checkups to ensure the health of your teeth and gums. At your dentist’s office, you might get a cavity filled or a tooth crown placed. You’ll get your teeth x-rayed and cleaned. Your dentist has great equipment to perform all these general dentistry procedures, along with restorative and cosmetic services.
Your dentist is also highly trained and knowledgeable about all parts of the tooth. He or she knows what is inside of the root canal and what needs to be done to clean it. A general dentist has likely performed root canals before and may be able to handle yours.
However a family dentist is not a specialist in any one area. So in some cases, they might still refer certain root canal cases to an endodontist for specialized treatment.
What Training Does an Endodontist Have?
Almost every endodontist starts with the same regular dental education as a family dentist. However, endodontists then go on to get 2+ more years of school and training to more deeply understand the inner chambers of tooth root canals.
Each tooth has one or two roots extending down into the jawbone to hold the tooth in place. These roots have complex inner anatomies, including twisting canals and tiny chambers. They also hold “pulp,” which is made of living tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
An endodontist trains in diagnosing and treating conditions specifically in the root canals and pulp. That often means that endodontists perform root canal treatments extensively, which might include around 25 procedures every week. They are specialized in these types of procedures, and very well-practiced in even the more difficult cases.
Why Do Dentists Refer Root Canals to Endodontists?
With so much experience in and knowledge of root canals, endodontists can take care of more complex treatment situations. A general dentist can perform root canals but may refer certain types to endodontists to ensure the best outcome. This can happen when:
- The dentist’s office lacks certain tools needed for complex cases, or tools that would provide a more secure outcome.
- The tooth has a complicated system of root canals, such as two different roots, occurring in molars and premolars.
- The root canal chambers are extremely thin, blocked, or hard to find, and have evaded standard microscopes.
A dentist may suspect that their equipment won’t clean all the infection out of a root canal. In this case, your dentist could refer you to a trusted endodontist office that has the right equipment.
The GentleWave System
A prime example of this equipment is the GentleWave system. This is a state-of-the-art piece of technology that sends sound waves into root canal chambers and gently flushes those chambers out with water. That combination can clean even microscopic spaces that standard tools can’t reach.
General dentists simply don’t have a reason to carry this system, because they perform complex root canal treatments infrequently—in contrast to an endodontist who performs them dozens of times per week.
Resolve Pain and Receive the Best Possible Treatment for Your Teeth
If you need a very effective root canal treatment for a complicated case, you can get a referral to Creekside Endodontics. The GentleWave System is an amazing alternative to traditional tools, with a high success rate and the ability to clean infections out of every hidden part of a root canal chamber. Call Creekside Endodontics for an appointment!