Root Canal Awareness Week spotlights endodontists

March 25, 2010
American Association of Endodontists releases dentist survey data, offers tips for choosing a specialist.

CHICAGO--When it comes to many serious health needs, family physicians turn to specialists, such as cardiologists for heart disease and podiatrists for foot troubles.

But when it comes to dentistry, general practitioners refer less than half of patients who need root canals to colleagues who specialize in the procedure, according to a recent survey by the American Association of Endodontists.

Dentists refer an average of 46% of root canal patients to an endodontist, yet almost all general dentists surveyed, 94%, say they have a positive or very positive perception of endodontists as well as the care they provide.

With more than 15 million root canals performed annually, the AAE is using Root Canal Awareness Week (March 28–April 3, 2010) to remind dental patients of the advanced training endodontists receive for this complex dental treatment. The AAE is also highlighting tips consumers should keep in mind when considering a root canal specialist.

"With their use of advanced technologies and expertise in administering anesthesia, endodontists perform virtually painless root canal treatments that can last a lifetime," said Dr. Gerald N. Glickman, AAE president. "Even if your dentist does not recommend a root canal specialist, ask about the benefits of consulting one."

Glickman notes that even though general dentists perform many straightforward root canal procedures, people who need root canals should consider and discuss the following with their dentist:

* Endodontists have two to three additional years of advanced training beyond dental school.
* Endodontists typically perform 25 root canal treatments each week, whereas general dentists perform fewer than two.
* Endodontists are experts in pain management, and use leading-edge equipment, as well as microsurgical techniques to improve patient comfort and save natural teeth.

Tips for selecting an endodontist
In the AAE survey, published in December 2009, general dentists who refer root canal patients reported using a network of up to four endodontists. Patients who wish to play an active role in choosing among qualified specialists, and people who are doing their own endodontist search, should reference these tips for selecting an endodontist:

Cover the basics. Look for an endodontist who is convenient and accessible. Inquire about specialists near your home or workplace, and find out if the endodontist's office is open during suitable hours, such as evenings or weekends. Ask whether specific endodontists accept your insurance plan or offer financing options. You may utilize the Find an Endodontist tool at Find an Endodontist to aid in the search.

Look for a solid track record. Ask how long the endodontist has been performing root canals and how frequently he or she does the procedure. If your general dentist is suggesting a root canal, find out as much as possible about why you need it. Then choose an experienced endodontist who has dealt with issues similar to yours. AAE members receive ongoing news and education on the latest research and technologies to help them stay at the forefront of the specialty. Some endodontists are also Board-certified, which means they have successfully passed a number of rigorous exams beyond their specialty training. Use the Find an Endodontist tool at Find an Endodontist to find an AAE member.

Ask about equipment. The most up-to-date endodontic equipment includes operating microscopes and rotary instrumentation that make getting to the "root" of a dental problem easier and faster. Endodontists are more likely than general dentists to have the most advanced equipment, but find out specifically how the endodontist's equipment will help during the procedure. Find out more about what you can expect during your visit with the specialist.

Look for long-term relationships. Find out whether the endodontist has an ongoing partnership with your general dentist. The endodontist should collaborate with your dentist on a treatment plan, and after a root canal, both should continue to monitor the success of the procedure.

For more information on local Root Canal Awareness Week activities or to find an endodontist in your area, visit Root Canal Awareness Week.

To read more about the AAE, go to AAE.

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