Endodontists and general dentists are both dental professionals, but they have slightly different specialties. In fact, it’s possible to be both, but to be an endodontist, you have to be a general dentist first. This is because an endodontist builds on the certifications a general dentist earns, spending an additional two years in school to learn their craft.
So which should you see, an endodontist or a general dentist? That depends on what dental issues you have.
General dentists perform common dental procedures such as filling cavities, fitting crowns and bridges, and assessing overall teeth and gum health. They’ll also advise patients on oral health care.
They don’t perform root canals and, in fact, only assist in the preparation and post-care check-ups. Endodontists are the ones trained to carry out this procedure.
For issues that require more serious attention and expertise, general dentists will refer patients to a more specialized practitioner such as an orthodontist, endodontist, or periodontist.
Endodontists, on the other hand, are trained to perform more advanced dental procedures such as root canal therapy, root canal re-treatment, and endodontic surgery.
If you need any of these treatments or have significant dental injuries, then you’ll be referred to an endodontist after meeting with a general dentist.
Seeing an endodontist over a general dentist who’s less specialized does come with advantages. They’re experts in diagnosing complex dental conditions and treating them, which is ideal when you’re seeking treatment for severe tooth pain. Their advanced education also means they’ll be more adept at treating these conditions using procedures such as root canals.
Endodontists are also experts in pain management and will be able to use numbing medications more effectively, ensuring pain is minimized before, during, and after treatment. Combined with their expertise in advanced medical technology, this allows them to provide much better treatment.
If you’ve got oral health issues that a routine checkup and cleaning can’t solve, particularly if you’re in significant pain, an endodontist may be more appropriate for you. Either way, any general dentist who believes you’ll need more advanced treatment will refer you to an endodontist for a consultation.