How to Choose an Endodontist
Endodontists are specially trained in the use of advanced technologies, such as digital imaging, operating microscopes and ultrasonics for diagnosing and treating oral and facial pain, and problems associated with the inside of the tooth. Endodontists specifically diagnose and treat oral pain involving the pulp and periradicular (just outside or around the root of the tooth origin) area of the teeth.
Education and Training for Endodontists
An endodontist must complete four years at an accredited dental school, as well as two or more years of advanced education at an American Dental Association (ADA)-accredited postdoctoral program in endodontics. Successful completion of such programs requires candidates to demonstrate superior knowledge and expertise within the scope of endodontics, as well as a high skill level in endodontic diagnosis, evaluation, problem-solving, decision-making, analysis and treatment. To earn diplomate status in the American Board of Endodontics (ABE), an endodontist must satisfy all requirements for board certification, which is a voluntary process.
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Choosing an Endodontist
Patients typically are referred to a qualified endodontist by their general dentist. However, if you choose to find your own, carefully research and check the qualifications of the prospective endodontist. Find out how long the endodontist has been in practice and his/her experience in performing root canals, as well as any other endodontic surgical procedures you may require.
Ideally you want to select and be referred to an endodontist who has built a successful practice through years of experience. The more procedures an endodontist has performed, the more experience and expertise he or she can offer you.
Other points to consider when selecting an endodontist include:
- What types of surgical technology/equipment does the endodontist's office boast? (There have been many advances in endodontic therapy in recent years, from the materials that are used for post and cores to the equipment used for cleaning root canals. Be sure the endodontist is up-to-date with the safest and most clinically sound technology available.)
- What medication and pain-relief options are offered?
- What is the cost of treatment, and does the endodontist accept your dental insurance or offer third-party financing options?
- What professional dental societies does the endodontist belong to? Does he/she teach at any dental schools?
- Does the endodontist have a pleasing chairside manner, and is the office staff friendly, helpful and professional?
- Are the office hours and location convenient for you? Emergencies are unlikely, but do find out what provisions the practice offers. What are the endodontist's office policies and procedures in the event of an emergency? For instance, is the endodontist reachable and/or readily available after office hours, on weekends and holidays?
- Does the endodontist, staff member or network associate provide the emergency service? If the latter, what are his/her credentials and experience?
In addition, if you are taking any medications, such as intravenous bisphosphonates (Zometa or Aredia) or oral bisphosphonates (Boniva or Fosamax), or are undergoing or about to undergo treatment for some form of cancer, be sure to inform your endodontist, since this information will affect your dental treatment. Provide your endodontist with the contact information for your general dentist, physician and/or oncologist so they may consult with one another to ensure that everyone is well-informed about your latest and most accurate dental/medical history.
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