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Can General Dentists Perform Root Canals or Does a Patient Need to See an Endondontist
In most cases, general dentists will refer root canal patients to endodontists, who focus on the diagnosis, causes, prevention and treatment of injuries and conditions that develop in the pulp of the teeth. However, there are some instances in which a generalist may be equipped to handle a root canal. If you are unsure of whether to let your family dentist perform such an intricate procedure, keep reading.
Cases in which general dentists can perform root canals
Typically, a generalist will refer a patient to an endodontist to conduct the root canal. However, in select instances, a general dentist may feel comfortable enough with the procedure to perform it in-office. This is typically only the case when a tooth has one root and when the failure rate for the particular procedure is relatively low.
For instance, the level of skill necessary to treat upper and lower canines, upper and lower incisors, and lower premolars generally falls within the skill level of family dentists. This may be due to the fact that canines, incisors and premolars typically have just a single, relatively large root canal.
However, molars, which have a complex root canal anatomy, should be treated by endodontists. Endodontists are trained to deal with the sizeable number of roots and individual root canals in any single molar. The same is true of upper premolars, which often have more than two roots and root canals.
Benefits of working with a general dentist
Of course, if a general dentist can perform a root canal, there are a few benefits to letting them. Below are some of the more enticing advantages.
Since a generalist does not undergo the extensive additional training an endodontist does, the cost of a root canal performed by a family dentist will generally be lower. However, a patient should not let cost alone guide the decision-making process.
There are many parts of the country in which endodontists are scarce if not non-existent. In these regions, patients have to travel hours just to undergo a single procedure. In these parts of the country, it is more convenient to allow general dentists to perform a root canal.
Many patients struggle with dental phobia, which is a crippling fear of the dentist and dental office environment. These patients may be uncomfortable allowing an unknown person to perform such an intricate procedure. In these cases, it may be most beneficial to allow a family dentist to conduct the root canal.
Even patients who do not live with dental phobia may find the familiarity beneficial. For instance, a person's family dentist is more likely to be flexible regarding billing, insurance and scheduling, while a focused practice may not be.
Many patients' mouths are riddled with quirks and nuances with which their family dentists are familiar but that may be difficult to convey to a newcomer. In these cases, it may be best to allow a generalist to perform all the different treatments the mouth requires.
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