How I learned to enjoy endodontics

Aug. 18, 2014
Stacey Simmons, DDS, talks about the resources she used to increase her knowledge about endodontics and boost her confidence as a dental provider. Perhaps you’ll find these tips she shares from her heart as a growing, practicing general dentist helpful too. She says one of the best benefits that has come from her growth throughout the process is a wonderful working relationship with her referring endodontist.

The requirements to graduate from dental school are indeed rigorous, and yet there are few dentists who are unable to make the claim that they went above and beyond the requirements in each discipline to graduate. Yes, we all excelled in one area or another or had our favorites, but on the flip side, we each had our dislikes. For me, this area was endodontics. I did the fewest number of root canals possible and once I checked them off my list, I was done. Finis. End of story. If only I had had a magic eight ball with me at the time …

ALSO BY DR. STACEY SIMMONS |We can't save them all: the missing endodontic diagnosis

As I have stated in other writings, endodontics has never been my strong point — case in point to my introduction paragraph. However, after 10 years out, I have come to realize that not only is endodontics engaging, it is a practice builder financially and patients love it when they can stay in-house to have something done.

ALSO BY DR. STACEY SIMMONS |Quick tips on how to be a better clinical provider within all disciplines of dentistry

My comfort level has yo-yoed over the last few years, primarily in part due to the bombardment of information thrown my way — hand files, rotary files, obturation systems, chelating agents, sealers … the list goes on and on and makes my eyes roll back in my head just thinking about it! As a result, sifting through this has been a challenge and, in part, has persuaded me that my time can be better spent doing something else productive — until recently.

A year back, I attended my state’s annual dental meeting and spent some time roaming the floors and talking to vendors. This is the best time to see what’s new in the dental world and to get a firsthand look at what has changed with technology, dental equipment, and assess the available resources that can improve a practice — both clinically and financially. I ended up at the Dentsply table where they were displaying the WaveOne system.

At first I was skeptical, but what honestly intrigued me was the simplicity of the reciprocating file system and how amazingly simple it all was. Everything matched up — files, paper, and gutta-percha points. What furthermore caught my interest was the fact that the science was emphasized and the end results were amazing. I made a decision to invest in the system and see what could be done with it.

I started with a simple root canal here and there then moved up to more complicated cases. I have started doing more molar root canals, and I actually enjoy doing them now. Why? Because it is so simple! I don’t have to worry about skipping steps, because there are none to skip. I have gotten clean fills every single time and have not had to worry about using 20 different files and keeping it all straight with the MB1, MB2, or lingual canals, etc.

Since investing in the system, I have requested that the Dentsply rep come to my office and review the system more and introduce me to additional products and the science that are in the works. The learning never stops.

With regard to learning, it is essential that I mention another reason my interest in doing root canals has spiked. I have found a tremendous resource and confidence booster with the association I have with my referring endodontist. We have engaging discussions about cases that he has done and about patients of mine whom he has treated. We discuss literature, pathology, science, successes, and failures. My knowledge has grown exponentially, and my confidence has matured.

The main point I wish to convey is that if there are disciplines in dentistry that you lack confidence in, then use your resources to change the status quo! Don't get stuck on the same road and make the ruts deeper … change course! You will be a better provider to your patients, and your practice will ultimately grow and benefit from it.

Disclaimer: The author has not been paid by Dentsply to endorse their product and recognizes that this system is not for every individual.

Dr. Stacey Simmons grew up in Hamilton, Mont. She did part of her undergraduate work at Purdue University and then received her bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Utah. After applying to both medical and dental school, she decided that dentistry was her career of choice. She received her DDS degree from Marquette University School of Dentistry in Milwaukee, Wisc., in 2004. In private practice, she focuses her care on prosthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. She is a guest lecturer in the Anatomy and Physiology Department at the University of Montana. Outside the office, she trains for triathlons and spends time with her family. You may contact Dr. Simmons by email at [email protected].