There may not be a more feared dental procedure than a root canal, but the key to ensuring a positive experience is choosing the right professional to perform the procedure. Painful root canal treatment is a thing of the past thanks to advances pioneered by endodontists, the root canal specialists. In a just released L.C. Williams & Associates poll, 89 percent of individuals who previously underwent a root canal by an endodontist would return to the specialist for future procedures.
Nearly half of overall respondents would choose to have an endodontist perform their root canal procedure. Even certain dental professionals would prefer an endodontist perform their root canals, with four out of five dental educators surveyed saying they would seek root canal treatment from a specialist.
"I trust my general dentist and make an effort to see him on a regular basis," says Sande Gioia, a 61 year-old patient from Newark, Delaware. "When my dentist told me I needed a root canal, he recommended that I see an endodontist who specializes in the procedure. My teeth are important, so when I need root canal treatment, I see a specialist who has the expertise in performing it."
Just as it is commonplace to see a cardiologist for a heart condition or an oncologist for a cancer diagnosis, consulting a specialist is equally important for maintaining your dental health. Routinely seeing a general dentist is the cornerstone of sustaining a healthy mouth, but for more complex and challenging procedures, such as a root canal, a visit to an endodontist may be preferable. Endodontists complete four years of dental school followed by two to three years of advanced training in endodontics. Their specialized training in administering anesthesia and use of leading-edge technologies can make root canal treatment more effective and predictable and result in a more positive patient experience. Endodontists also are experts in diagnosing and treating facial pain as it relates to dental problems.
"Endodontists are really micro-surgeons trained to navigate the intricate canals inside the tooth," says Shepard S. Goldstein, D.M.D., president of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) and an endodontist from Framingham, Mass. "Our specialized training paired with the latest dental technologies helps us to accurately and effectively eliminate tooth pain and ultimately allow the patient to keep the natural tooth."
The advanced technology often found in the endodontist's office, such as digital radiography and operating microscopes, has dramatically improved the precision and success of every step of the root canal procedure. By harnessing this technology, endodontists are able to save teeth that would have been pulled - all while making root canals virtually painless.
General dentists are trained to perform basic root canal treatments in dental school and on average they perform about two a week. Endodontists' advanced training makes them true experts in root canal procedures and especially adept at handling complex cases. Endodontists perform an average of 25 root canals per week.