This week marks Root Canal Awareness Week (May 7-13, 2017). We are joining the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) 11th annual celebration to help spread the word about the root canal specialists known as Endodontists and the important role they play in dental health. A patient is referred to an endodontist by their general dentist when a specialized treatment, like a root canal procedure, is recommended. Endodontists specialize in diagnosing tooth pain and focus primarily on root canal procedures. They are referred by general dentists when a specialist is needed for a treatment such as a root canal. They specialize in diagnosing tooth pain and focus primarily on the root canal.
As a general dentist in Eugene, OR, there are two essential factors that I take into consideration when referring patients to an endodontist for treatment. The doctor must possess excellent clinical skills and have values that align with mine in the provision of dental care with an emphasis on treating my patients with empathy, respect and compassion. It gives me comfort knowing that Eugene Endodontist Dr. David Wilson possesses both the skills and values in abundance. Throughout the years of association with Dr. Wilson, my confidence in the care he provides for my patients has only grown stronger. When I believe that an endodontist can provide the best treatment for a patient, I am always happy to recommend Dr. Wilson.
To get to know our colleague and Endodontist, I am joined by Dr. Wilson. I had a chance to ask him a few brief questions in honor of the Root Canal Awareness Week. Thank you Dr. Wilson!
What is the difference between a general dentist and an endodontist?
An endodontist is a general dentist that has 2-3 years of additional training in an accredited graduate program to become a specialist in root canal therapy. The average general dentist will perform 2-3 root canals a week whereas the average endodontist will do 20-25 root canals a week. This additional training and specialized equipment allow me and my staff to provide the highest and most comfortable level of care possible to those patients trusted to us from general dentist Dr. Dexter. We have a long standing relationship with Dr. Dexter and are honored to be an extension of his practice.
What are the benefits of root canal treatment?
Root canal therapy allows a patient to save the natural tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted and replaced with more expensive therapy. Modern day root canal therapy with an endodontist is nearly always pain free and takes only 45-60 mins to complete–the length of a longer filling. Often patients just need over the counter ibuprofen for a couple of days afterwards.
Why do patients need to have a root canal procedure?
Root canal therapy is required when the pulp of the tooth becomes diseased or inflamed beyond repair. This damage can come from large restorations/crowns, tooth decay, or cracked teeth. The tooth can be extremely painful or completely asymptomatic to the patient.
I’ve been reading a lot in the press/media lately about medical tourism, and patients going to countries like Thailand and Mexico to have root canals performed, what are your thoughts on this?
Unfortunately, much of the work that I have seen in foreign countries is not to the level of care that is done in the United States. Most of these root canals will need to be redone to avoid future pain and infection. These root canal retreatments are more expensive and involved than the initial treatment so it is always a good idea to get the treatment done right the first time.
When you were studying dentistry did you always know you wanted to be an endodontist?
I always had an interest in endodontics and did a lot of research in the speciality even as a dental student. However, after graduation, I practiced with my father in Idaho as a family dentist for 6 years before deciding to go back to school to specialize. I have been happy with my decision and enjoy the ability to quickly relieve a patient’s suffering in a painless manner with root canal therapy. However, I do miss the relationships that develop with patients that are seen in the office of a family dentist.
For more information regarding Root Canal Awareness Week, visit the AAE website