A root canal (also called root canal therapy) is a procedure that is performed to save a patient’s natural tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. A patient might require a root canal if the interior of a tooth has a bacterial infection as a result of tooth decay, an injury, or old dental work that has been compromised. Tooth cracks can also aggravate the tooth pulp causing pain and the need for root canal therapy.
Both general dentists and endodontists are qualified to perform root canal therapy, and the type of practitioner you choose largely depends on your specific case, its complexity, personal preference, and recommendation from your trusted dentist.
What Is the Difference Between an Endodontist and a Dentist?
Both dentists and endodontists complete dental school to receive their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. So, both dentists and endodontists can technically provide all the same services from prophylactic teeth cleanings, exams, and x-rays, to more complex services like root canals and gum therapy. However, in practice, their service offerings vary greatly.
Dentists typically focus on and specialize in preventative, restorative, and even cosmetic dentistry. They usually focus on providing exceptional general dental care such as comprehensive oral evaluations, fillings, crowns, periodontal disease treatment, etc.
Endodontists, on the other hand, complete additional training to become certified by the American Board of Endodontics. They focus specifically on evaluating, diagnosing, and treating the tooth pulp (the interior tissue of the teeth that contains nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels) and the tissues that surround the roots of the teeth. As a result of this additional training, endodontists are more specialized in providing root canal treatment than general dentists, and they opt not to provide general dentistry services like cleanings and crowns.
Endodontist vs. Dentist: Which Is Better for a Root Canal?
Both dentists and endodontists are technically trained and qualified to perform root canals, and that can make it challenging to decide which type of dental professional is right for your procedure. If you need a root canal, considering the following factors can help you choose whether to see an endodontist or your general dentist.
Training, Expertise, and Complex Cases
Since endodontists specifically focus on issues with the interior pulp of teeth, they do have more training and definitely more experience performing root canals than dentists. This is especially true when it comes to treating complex cases. Also, since their practices are devoted to root canal therapy, they generally are more efficient with the procedure. While a general dentist typically performs root canal therapy several times a month, an endodontist completes several per day.
Many general dentists also perform routine root canal procedures. In addition, general dentists will perform the restorative treatment that is needed after a root canal procedure is completed. This often includes a core build-up to rebuild the structure of the remaining tooth and a crown to protect and strengthen the tooth after the nerve has been removed. Endodontists do not perform these services, so having a dentist do all three procedures can be very convenient. On the other hand, having a specialist take care of more complex root canals, while less convenient, is best for the longevity of the tooth.
Advanced Technology Available for Treatment
Although dentists use advanced technology in their practices, endodontists’ offices are fully equipped with advanced treatment technology that is specifically designed to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of tooth pulp, root canals, and the tissues surrounding the teeth. For example, many endodontists work with special microscopes that magnify the treatment area and enable them to provide much more precise treatment.
Both dentists and endodontists can help manage a patient’s pain during and after root canal therapy procedures with local anesthetics, aftercare recommendations, and prescription pain medications (if recommended). In addition, both providers can give prescriptions for antibiotics if they deem it necessary.
Which Is Right for You? Should You See an Endodontist or a Dentist for Your Root Canal?
As you can see, several factors determine whether a patient should see a dentist or an endodontist for their root canal treatment. The type of dental professional that is best for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you have a complex case or, perhaps, have already had a root canal but are continuing to experience issues, then you might need to see an endodontist for treatment.
If, however, your root canal issues are fairly simple and only require basic root canal therapy, then you can likely access quality care with a successful treatment outcome with your regular dentist. Additionally, treatment with your primary dental care provider ensures you receive continuity of care, and receive all the care you need in one location with the same doctor.
Root Canal Consultations and Root Canal Therapy in Hilliard
At Smile Hilliard, we are experienced in performing root canal procedures in a wide variety of patient cases, and we achieve highly successful treatment outcomes. If your case, however, is more complex or you would prefer to see a board-certified endodontist for your root canal treatment, we can refer you to a local specialist.
To learn more about root canal therapy or to schedule a consultation, we welcome you to contact Smile Hilliard to schedule an appointment today.