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Dental specialists

In this blog, we hope to address some of the questions people have about dental specialties, including endodontics (the specialty typically associated with root canal treatment).

Dentists with additional training: All dentists attend three to four years of dental school learning to perform a vast array of routine dental procedures such as extractions, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, etc.  Dental specialists are dentists who have gone on to receive additional post-doctoral training in a particular, limited field.  The recognized dental specialties include oral surgery, prosthodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, public health, oral pathology, oral radiology, and endodontics.  Endodontic residency programs are 2-3 years long. These years of additional education make dental specialists better equipped to handle more complex cases.  Specialists are also good sources of information for general dentists regarding newer, proven techniques and materials (1).

Why did my dentist refer me to a specialist? One must first understand that not all teeth are created equal.  Some teeth are more difficult to treat.  Some conditions are more difficult to diagnose.  General dentists often refer their patients to specialists for these complex cases.  Being referred to a specialist does NOT mean your general dentist is incompetent.  On the contrary!  The most skilled, experienced dentists are aware of their limitations and know when it is best to refer!  Your referral to a specialist indicates that your dentist is fulfilling an ethical obligation to ensure you receive the highest level of dental care. Dentists who are members of the American Dental Association abide by a code of ethics and professional conduct, which states, “Dentists shall be obliged to seek consultation, if possible, whenever the welfare of patients will be safeguarded or advanced by utilizing those who have special skills, knowledge, and experience.” (2)

What are specific reasons for being referred to an endodontic specialist? The reasons for a referral to an endodontist are too numerous to list, but we will mention a few.  Any one or a combination of conditions may be reasons for referral.  These conditions include, but are not limited to: Difficult diagnosis, questions about prognosis, limited mouth opening, aggressive infection/pain, difficulty with radiographic imaging, difficult-to-access canals, challenging tooth/root morphology, and complications with previously-done root canal therapy (3).  In the end, perhaps the most important reason for referral to a specialist is to provide the patient with the best dental care possible.

1. Hazelkorn HM, Robins LS. Building the relationship between general practice and specialty dentists. J Am Dent Assoc. 1994;125:1392-6.
2. ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct
3. Rosenberg RJ, Goodis HE. Endodontic case selection: to treat or to refer. J Am Dent Assoc. 1992;123:57-63.

Posted:  9/29/2015 3:44 PM
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3290 Sepulveda Blvd. • Torrance, CA 90505

Phone: |(310) 325-3100 • Fax: |(310) 325-3112

Ellis Endodontics is located in Torrance, California serving nearby South Bay cities such as Root Canal - San Pedro CA, Root Canal - Palos Verdes CA, Root Canal - Lomita CA, Root Canal - Redondo Beach CA, Root Canal - Hermosa Beach CA, Root Canal - Torrance CA, and Root Canal - Gardena CA. Our endodontists specialize in root canal treatment, root canal retreatment, and root canal surgery. We service the following zip codes: 90501, 90503, 90504, 90505, 90254, 90266, 90274, 90275, 90277, and 90278. Let us be your South Bay endodontic office!