Most people have the misperception that their dentist is a one-stop, cure-all for all their dental needs. However, this perception could not be further from the truth. While dental practices that feature specialists on staff exist, most practices require that patients be referred to an out-of-practice dental specialist. One of the more common specialists that dentists refer patients to is an endodontist.
Endodontists are specialty dentists who specialize in the maintaining of teeth through procedures involving the soft inner tissue of the teeth, called the pulp. This includes procedures such as root canals and dental implants. While the specialty of endodontists is universally the same, not all endodontist practices are created equal. With this in mind, here are questions that patients should ask when choosing an endodontist:
Does the endodontic practice accept your insurance?
While many endodontists work with insurance companies, it’s not a requirement within the endodontic field. Not all dental insurance plan’s benefits include a visit to see a dental specialist. With root canal therapy costing anywhere between $500 – $3,000, cost is going to be the first thing every patient will have to consider when scheduling a procedure with an endodontist. You can also check to see if the endodontic practice has a financing plan available, if you don’t have dental insurance.
What is the endodontist’s educational background and experience?
Like many other specialists, endodontists receive more in-depth training from certain universities. Patients should make sure that any endodontist they consider has completed four years at an accredited dental school, as well as two or more years of advanced education at an American Dental Association accredited postdoctoral program in endodontics.
Is the endodontist using the newest, state-of-the-art equipment available?
Technology has revolutionized the endodontic field, making treatments far more effective and producing better results for all patients. However, endodontists are not required to use the latest technology, so it is up to the patient to find out what technological tools an endodontist is using.
For example, try to find out if the endodontist in question uses a 3D X-Ray machine. 3D technology allows for endodontists to be able to view the dental anatomy of a tooth from different angles. This is important as a 3D scan can help gain a better view of bone structures, such as adjacent root positions. 3D technology also helps an endodontist locate canals and root fractures. Here’s a real patient story on how this technology makes a difference for patients: The Proof is in the 3D X-Ray.
To answer these questions, you can visit the endodontist’s website, call the office, or Google the endodontic practice (Yelp reviews also come in handy!). If you’re still unsure, set up a consultation to learn more and ask any questions you have prior to the procedure. Likely, your dentist is referring you to a trusted colleague of theirs, so feel free to ask them for more information as well.