What is an Endodontist?

Tooth model cross section with dental tools on black wooden tabl

Read this article to discover what an endodontist is and how they are different from a dentist, including education, professional areas of focus, and when you need to see an endodontist. 

You’re probably wondering what an endodontist does and how they are different from a dentist, right?

Endodontists are still dentists but specialize in tooth pain. They have extra knowledge and training, which helps them diagnose, treat and perform root canals at the highest level. Endodontists usually have two to three years of additional education in an advanced endodontics program. This is on top of completing four years of dental school beforehand. 

Endodontists focus on studying diseases based on dental pulp and how to treat them. This is why it’s so common for patients to see an endodontist for a root canal (a procedure in which they remove the nerve of the tooth because the pulp has been damaged or infected. If left untreated, the pulp gets inflamed and becomes very painful). But, this doesn’t mean endodontists are the only ones who can do root canals. Dentists can still do plenty of root canals! In severe cases, though, it may be best to go to an endodontist. 

Here are a few reasons to see an endodontist:

Your dentist might refer you to an endodontist for the following common reasons:

  • Bacterial infection – If bacteria get into the pulp from either tooth decay or cracks,  it can cause inflammation or pain. It’s common for people to see an endodontist for this.
  • Tooth injury – If your tooth gets loose or falls out from trauma, an endodontist will put the tooth back in, stabilize it, and perform a root canal on it.
  • Chipped tooth – Large chips may expose the pulp, which can lead to bacteria getting in. This would call for a root canal procedure. 

Endodontist Technologies

Endodontists have advanced technology that is purposely designed to make treatments more successful while having as little recovery time as possible. One technology they use is to photograph microscopic areas to help plan your procedure. They’ll start with a dental dam, which is a small sheet of plastic or rubber. This is used to isolate the tooth during treatment, so the rest of your mouth can be protected. From there, digital radiographs and 3-D imaging give endodontists detailed pictures of tiny tooth anatomy in your mouth. Now they have an up-close image of root canals and any infections. The area is so small, it’s said to be smaller than the period dot on your keyboard! Endodontists have to use microscopes to see these super tiny areas to make it possible to perform a root canal and get you back to feeling as good as new. 

If you’re not sure if it’s necessary to see an endodontist, your dentist would be more than happy to help you make that decision. They may even have a great referral for a local endodontist for you to see. Your dentist can work with the endodontist to help find a plan that suits you and your smile.