You’ve been diagnosed with an infected root canal system, and you’re not sure who to see for root canal therapy. Should you choose a dentist or an endodontist? That decision is ultimately up to you and your dentist, but the type of tooth that is infected and the shape of its roots can be important factors in making the choice. But before we look into that, let’s discuss the differences between endodontists and dentists.
What is an Endodontist? How Are They Different from Dentists?
You may be asking yourself, “What is an endodontist?” Dentists and endodontists are both graduates of dental school, and many endodontists begin their dental careers in general practice. But while all endodontists are dentists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists.* Endodontists complete an additional two or more years of specialized training in diagnosing tooth pain and performing procedures relating to the interior of a tooth. Their practice is frequently limited to endodontic procedures and, on average, they perform 25 root canal treatments per week.*
Does this mean that only endodontists can perform root canals? Absolutely not! General dentists are skilled in performing root canal therapy and have the tools and training required for successfully completing most procedures. But there are some situations when even dentists who routinely perform root canals will refer their patients to an endodontist.
Why Would a Dentist Refer You to an Endodontist?
If the infected tooth has a complex root canal system—which is frequently an issue with multi-rooted teeth like molars or premolars—dentists may refer their patient to an endodontist.** For successful treatment, the dentist or endodontist must be able to find and clean all of the canals within the tooth. Molars and premolars may have slender canals that are sometimes obstructed or difficult to detect, even with high-powered microscopes and imaging systems.** Also, root canal systems with complex anatomies may be difficult to completely clean with standard root canal treatment. In that case, a dentist may choose to refer these cases to an endodontist, who typically has more experience in treating complex root canal systems.
One of the most effective methods for a dentist or an endodontist to reach every root—even those with complex anatomies1,2—is with the innovative alternative to standard root canal treatment, the GentleWave® Procedure. The GentleWave System uses fluid dynamics and broad spectrum acoustic energy to clean and disinfect the root canal system.2 This revolutionary procedure is so effective at cleaning the root canal system2 —removing bacteria, debris and tissue2—that it even reaches into the microscopic spaces1,2 that standard root canal treatments often cannot.3 Plus, with the GentleWave Procedure, the tooth can typically be cleaned and filled in just one session.4 After undergoing the procedure, a permanent crown may be placed at a follow-up appointment.
How Can You Find a GentleWave® Provider?
If you’re interested in this minimally invasive1 alternative to standard root canal treatment, we can help! Use our Provider Locator to find a dentist or endodontist in your area with the GentleWave System.