What’s The Difference:
Dentist vs. Endodontist

There are many different types of dentists – and it can be overwhelming to know the difference.

Dentist vs. Endodontist

Key Points:

  • Endodontists are specialized dentists
  • Endodontists have more training and education than dentists
  • Dentists traditionally refer patients to endodontists when there’s a need for a root canal

There are many different types of dentists – and it can be overwhelming to know the difference. When offering IT services and solutions, it’s essential to know what dental offices offer.

The Differences Between a Dentist and an Endodontist

When it comes to oral hygiene, you should see a doctor that has gone to dental school – and both dentists and endodontists have gone to dental school. The difference comes down to how much dental school they have attended and how specialized they are.

Endodontists are more specialized dentists. They have gone for two (or more) additional years to have specialized training. It allows them to know more about dental roots and nerves.

While all endodontists are dentists, approximately 3% of dentists are endodontists.

When you go to a dentist, you typically see a traditional dentist. They will focus on such things as x-rays, cleaning, and fillings. If there are other problems, particularly tooth pain, you will likely see an endodontist.

An endodontist will diagnose and treat tooth pain. They can repair tissues located inside the tooth. They’ll perform root canals, treat tooth abscesses, and provide other procedures to relieve pain.

Most of what a dentist does is preventative. When there’s an active problem, a specialist will step in. Endodontists will work to relieve pain and do whatever they can to save the natural tooth.

Can a Dentist Recommend an Endodontist?

Typically, no one goes right to an endodontist. One of the reasons for this is because, as a specialist, their services are more expensive – and sometimes, not even covered by dental insurance policies. Instead, they go to a dentist for help with any tooth problem.

It’s only after a dentist has performed a complete evaluation that a specialist is determined. Dentists typically have a long list of specialists they will recommend based on the issue.

Specialists that can be recommended include:

  • Endodontists
  • Oral surgeons
  • Orthodontists
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist

The reason for a recommendation from a general dentist is two-fold. First, it ensures that the patient goes to the right specialist. The second is because many dental insurance plans require a referral, so a person isn’t going to a specialist (which typically means spending more money) unless necessary.

Are Endodontists Oral Surgeons?

Endodontists will perform root canals, but they do not provide extensive oral surgery. If issues require surgery, there is a different specialist known as an oral pathologist or an oral surgeon.

Oral surgeons will be performing such procedures as:

  • Tooth extractions
  • Dental implants
  • Corrective jaw surgery
  • Palate repair

In most cases, endodontists won’t be removing the tooth. They will perform minor surgeries designed to address the roots and nerves while preserving the natural tooth. Meanwhile, oral surgeons often extract natural teeth and potentially perform even more in-depth surgeries that require cutting through skin and bone. These often require full anesthesia, too, so the facility needs more extensive equipment.

What is the Difference Between a Periodontist and an Endodontist?

Periodontists and endodontists often get confused, too. While both are dentists, the specialization areas are very different.

Periodontists work with the gums, while endodontists work with dental nerves and roots.

Periodontists cannot perform root canals. Instead, they provide gum procedures that will help address the gum’s health – and even solve gum erosion as a result of gingivitis or periodontitis.

Depending on the level of overall dental health in place, there may be the need to see both specialists because of one issue – such as dental pain and gum erosion.

Dentists work to help prevent you from ever needing to see the periodontist (for gum issues) or the endodontist (for root issues) by encouraging you to brush, floss, and adequately clean to the root so that infections cannot form and wreak havoc on your gums and teeth.

How to Know When It Is Time to Visit an Endodontist vs. a Dentist

To take care of your dental health, you should visit a dentist twice a year. This will ensure you get updated x-rays, schedule a proper dental cleaning, and have your teeth inspected for cavities.

Most dental plans, too, will allow for two visits to the dentist every year. It’s a way to maintain a preventative approach to your dental health. If there are issues during a routine visit, your dentist will talk to you about seeing a specialist.

You’ll only have to visit an endodontist if you’re experiencing some tooth pain. Examples include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Throbbing pain around a tooth
  • Swelling in your face
  • An injury that has affected your tooth (or even caused it to break)
  • A tooth is visibly cracked, decaying, or discolored

You have choices about who you call to get help with your teeth – you can see your dentist or go directly to an endodontist. Often, it comes down to any dental health coverage you may have. Your insurance plan may dictate that you visit a dentist first. This ensures you go through the proper channels while allowing a dentist to determine if your condition is severe enough to visit with an endodontist.

Since there are differences between the specialties, it’s usually best to rely first on a general dentist. After your dentist has identified the issues, you can let them determine if you need an endodontist, an oral surgeon, or another dental specialist.

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