What is the Difference Between an Endodontist vs. Oral Surgeon?

A general dentist can handle the majority of your dental needs. From teeth cleaning to filling cavities, your dentist is a valuable asset in protecting and maintaining your teeth throughout your life. However, there are times when a specialist is required. A dental specialist will perform more specific services that typically require additional training and education. Two of these specialist types are endodontists and oral surgeons. But what is the difference between the two, and when is either needed? Here’s what you need to know about an endodontist vs oral surgeon.

What is an Endodontist?

An endodontist is a very specific professional that focuses on treating disease and injuries concerning the inside of the tooth. The interior of a tooth contains pulp, which is made up of nerve endings, blood vessels, and other organic material. Root canals are the most common procedure endodontists perform, although other services are provided as well. Other forms of endodontic therapy are also possible. An endodontist will do whatever they can to protect and save an injured tooth.

If a tooth sustains an injury, such as if it cracks, an endodontist will address the problem and do what they can to not only save the tooth but help you maintain the tooth. It isn’t all about simply saving a tooth because if it is not possible to maintain the tooth’s health, or if it is likely to split further and cause you additional pain, in the end, an endodontist might recommend having it removed.

Other specialized surgeries performed by an endodontist may focus on the anatomy of a tooth’s roots. When compared to an oral surgeon, an endodontist will perform microscopic surgeries that need to be done around the roots of the teeth, usually through small incisions around the gums.

What is an Oral Surgeon

On the other hand, an oral surgeon performs a wider breadth of treatments. They do not focus specifically on the inside of a tooth but the entire region around the mouth. They may do anything from impacted teeth in the gum line to reconstruction surgery around the mouth. While it depends on the oral surgeon and if they choose to specialize in one kind of oral surgery over another, they will typically spend most of their time replacing teeth (such as with implants that are screwed into either the gums or into the jawbone), or they will perform reconstructive surgery on teeth and bones that were damaged in the mouth. They will also work with the soft tissue within and around the mouth.

When to See an Oral Surgeon or an Endodontist

When it comes to the interior of a tooth, an endodontist is the professional you need to seek out. They perform root canals daily, and so the level of experience is dramatically larger than what a general dentist has regarding root canals (while most general dentists do have the training to perform a root canal, it is not something they regularly do, so for more complex procedures, where the canals inside of a tooth are elaborate, they are likely to recommend you seeing an endodontist that spends the majority of their time working with complex root systems).

An endodontist will not only perform a root canal, but they will move in through inflamed gum lines to address concerns with the roots. There might be bacteria or other disease forming around the root system. To save the teeth and correct the inflammation, the endodontist is the kind of specialist you need to seek out.

An oral surgeon is someone to schedule a visit with if you need a larger scale surgery. If you have a tooth that needs to be removed and want an implant, you will want to contact an oral surgeon. Where a general dentist is able to remove most teeth, if you have an extremely impacted tooth, an oral surgeon may be necessary. Additionally, an implant may need to be attached to the jawbone in some form, which is best handled by an oral surgeon.

There might be some reconstruction required as well. If you have a fractured tooth that cannot be saved, it is important to have it removed and all the remaining pieces extracted to prevent damage to the surrounding teeth and gums. An oral surgeon will perform this for you.

Now, there are times when you might still not be sure which specialist to see. This is the case with a cracked tooth. Depending on the severity of the crack, an oral surgeon might recommend removing the tooth and replacing it right away. At the same time, an endodontist will focus on saving the tooth first. If you find yourself in this case and have a cracked tooth where the crack travels down to the gum line, it is best to schedule a consultation with an endodontist and have the specialist inspect your tooth first. They will be able to determine whether they can save the tooth or not. If it is beyond the saving of an endodontist, they may then recommend you to see an oral surgeon to have it removed and replaced.

Schedule Your Consultation With Southern Endodontist Specialists

If you believe you need services offered by an endodontic specialist, or if you want a second opinion of a diagnosis your current dentist has presented you with, now is the time to schedule your consultation with Southern Endodontist Specialists. Dr. Steven Gaudet and Dr. Benjamin Ber will work with you to determine what is going on and the best course of action for you and your smile. At your convenience, give the staff at Southern Endodontic Specialists a call, or feel free to fill out an online registration directly through the website. Everything else will be taken care of.