What is the Difference Between a Dentist vs Endodontist?

Most people know what dentists do, but the understanding of the various dental specialists is not universal. To help you with comparing dentist vs endodontist for your treatment, we provide this guide. Once you know the differences and similarities of these professions, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision about whom to seek treatment from.

Education and Training: Dentist vs Endodontist

First, dentists and endodontists have the same training in general oral health and dental care. Endodontists must have a degree in dentistry first. Therefore, they go through dental school, which includes coursework and clinical training, the same as dentists do.

Both dentists and endodontists know about preventing dental decay and treating minor problems with fillings or restorative crowns. However, endodontists get more training that allows them to treat deeper problems in the teeth.

While most dentists choose to enter practice after completing dental school, some choose to continue their education by becoming specialists. Dental specialists include periodontists, endodontists, orthodontists, and prosthodontists. The number of years of extra education required depends on the type of specialty. Endodontists usually go through two to three years of specialist training.

During endodontic training, students learn about the internal tissues of the tooth and how to care for them. The exceptionally sensitive tooth root requires extra learning about pain mitigation and management, too. Consequently, most endodontic treatments today are nearly painless during the procedure.

Types of Care Offered: Dentist vs Endodontist

Everyone should have a regular dentist they visit for cleanings and exams at least twice a year. These treatments can prevent many problems such as severe decay that could lead to tooth loss. Dentists can treat most tooth decay with fillings. However, if you have decay that is too deep for treatment with a standard dental filling, you will need root canal therapy from an endodontist.

Endodontists work on the internal parts of the tooth, where pain often originates. Therefore, they are especially adept at identifying the cause of dental pain and treating it at the source.

One common cause of pain that endodontists see is inflammation or infection inside the tooth’s root canals. Root canal treatment cleans out the pulp that has been infected and painful, correcting the dental pain by getting rid of the cause. In some cases, when you visit an endodontist, you may require endodontic surgery when root canal therapy cannot reach the source of the problem.

When to See a Dentist

You should see your dentist regularly. Most people need dental cleanings twice a year. The dentist may recommend that you also have annual or twice-yearly x-rays and exams. Other visits during the year may occur for dental pain or injuries, such as knocked-out teeth.

When you have dental pain, the dentist first does an exam to determine if the cause is inside a tooth or from elsewhere. For instance, you might have sinus pain that feels like a toothache. Only a dental x-ray and exam can determine whether you need dental care for a tooth or medical care for your sinuses.

In cases when pain comes from a cavity, the dentist can fill the tooth to stop the decay and pain. If the decay continues, bacteria can infect the tooth pulp. While some dentists perform root canal treatment, they don’t do this procedure as frequently as endodontists. Plus, dentists may not have the same high-tech equipment for root canal therapy that endodontists have. Therefore, if you have a dentist recommend root canal therapy, request a referral to an endodontist for the procedure. You will return to your dentist after the procedure to ensure that you are healing well and to fit you with a crown on the tooth if needed.

Some dentists can also provide cosmetic dentistry such as teeth straightening and whitening. Additionally, their practice might include fitting patients with bridges, dentures, or implants.

Times to Visit an Endodontist

Usually, you will have a referral to an endodontist. However, you might turn to an endodontist for tooth pain or treat a cracked tooth. Any problem that causes potential issues with the inside of a tooth may be a concern that an endodontist can treat.

Root Canal Therapy

The most performed treatment done by endodontists is root canal therapy. This treatment is a way to save the tooth from death and removal. Cracked teeth often need root canal therapy to remove bacteria that infected the tooth through the crack.

An endodontist will open a tooth slightly to allow them to access the root canals. Traditionally, they would use very tiny tools to clean out the infected pulp. However, if you have complex internal tooth anatomy, this method could leave behind some infected matter. To avoid this problem, we use the GentleWave system at Southern Endodontic Specialists.

The GentleWave system combines the movement of fluids and soundwaves to reach deeply into the tooth. Since the procedure can get into the smallest space that tools might not otherwise reach, it can reduce the number of visits required and complications from the procedure.

After cleaning out the tooth, the endodontist seals the canals against future infection and fills the tooth. Sometimes you will need a crown on their treated tooth to protect it from cracking or other damage.

Endodontic Retreatment

Similar to root canal therapy is endodontic retreatment. You will need this service if you had a root canal at any time in the past but bacteria invade the interior of the tooth. Retreatment happens shortly after failed root canal treatments or years in the future if decay affects the same tooth. The process of retreatment is almost the same as the initial root canal, but the first step requires the endodontist to re-enter the tooth. Next, they will reclean the interior of the tooth to get rid of any bacteria that reinvaded. Lastly, they reseal and refill the tooth.

Endodontic Surgery

In complex cases when root canal therapy will not solve the problem, or for split teeth when the endodontist can only save part of the tooth, surgery may be necessary. Endodontic surgery includes a variety of procedures, including removing the tooth to treat it outside the mouth and reimplanting it and treating root canals from the tip of the tooth. The endodontist will evaluate your tooth first before determining whether you need non-surgical root canal treatment or surgery on your tooth.

Visit Southern Endodontist Specialists When You Need Endodontic Care

After comparing a dentist vs an endodontist in their education and care offered, you will appreciate that these professionals have distinct roles to play in maintaining your oral health. If your dentist recommends endodontic care, ask for a referral to us at Southern Endodontic Specialists. We can provide you with root canal treatment and other types of endodontic care. Our treatments should supplement your dentist’s preventative and restorative care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at our Houma or Thibodaux location. Let us exceed your expectations for endodontic treatment.