Dentist, orthodontist, endodontist... What's the difference, anyways? Depending on what you are trying to get fixed, well, it could be night and day. To start this article off we are going to clear up the differences between these three and then we are going to tell you when and why you need endodontic care.
What is an endodontist vs. dentist vs. orthodontist
Each of these professionals has specific areas of treatment that they will engage in daily. Knowing the difference is important, as it helps you to ensure that you are receiving the best possible care from the most qualified professional. So, what are the differences?
- Dentist - This is the general practitioner of the bunch, but don't assume that means they are not useful to you. A dentist specializes in the mouth, teeth, gums, and jaw. They can perform cosmetic treatments such as tooth whitening or the application of crowns or veneers, for instance. They can help you manage tooth decay, filling cavities, performing root canals.. all quite useful and generally thing that the dentist will do daily. That level of expertise is nothing to sneeze at.
- Orthodontist - The orthodontist has a dentist's training, but they have taken an extra 3 years of university training to further studies on the jaw and on the alignment of a patient's bite. They can fit you for braces, perform dental implant surgery, install a Herbst appliance, and more!
- Endodontist - What is an endodontist? A specialist at SAVING teeth, endodontists primarily study the pulp of the tooth. Their name even comes from the root words 'endo' and 'odont', literally meaning, 'inside tooth'. Having completed an additional 2 to 3 years in university for these studies they are quite useful but a little harder to find(of all dentists, only 3% are endodontists.).) Endodontists routinely perform root canals and are adept at treating diseases inside the teeth, their goal being to save your existing teeth rather than to replace them with something synthetic.
Are you looking to save that tooth?
If the answer is a resounding 'YES', then an endodontist, by definition, is the one that you will want to consult. Working closely with your current dentist or independently, they can lend an expertise to the case that just might save your natural tooth.
Do you need to manage tooth pain?
This is another specialty of an endodontist. Isolating a problem tooth with a dental dam, the endodontist can then apply specialty techniques to make sure that your visit to the clinic is as pleasant as physically possible. Following your treatment, the endodontist is completely up to date on the latest pain management medications and tips. Having an endodontist on hand ensures your comfort as well as the best chances for keeping the teeth that you were born with, so these specialties will likely be of extreme interest to many.
Formal training specific to endodontists
- Microsurgeries - By utilizing current microscope technologies, your endodontist can operate on an area of tooth as big as Roosevelt's ear on the American dime. This means a root canal is done with extreme precision designed to get out ONLY the decay while preserving the healthy portions of the pulp of your tooth,
- Apicectomies - An apecectomy is a procedure where a filling is applied to the tip of the root of your tooth. This is done when there is an infection following a root canal and it is a highly specialized treatment.
“The root words 'endo' and 'odont', literally meaning, 'inside tooth'”
- Endodontic treatments - Specialized pain management as well as diagnosis for issues on a microscopic level, endodontic treatments make sure that your dental remediation is both minimal on pain and surgical in execution.
- Trauma management - In cases of severe dental trauma, the endodontist is trained in saving as much of the physical tooth as is possible. Viewing themselves as preservationists of your smile, if it is important to you to keep what nature gave you then you will definitely want to employ the services of an endodontics specialist.
How much does endodontic treatment cost?
While it may vary depending on the ranges of treatment employed, for something like a root canal it is likely going to be in the area of $900 - $1100. Root canals are largely covered by insurance, however, so that is a point in your favor. As endodontics is a specialist science, there may be aspects of the treatment that are not covered by your insurance. A consultation with your endodontist can help you to get a more exact figure prior to your treatment. This should let you know if an endodontist will be a good fit for your treatment.
Understanding Insurance coverage with endodontists
Insurance companies employ a system called UCR, or 'Usual, customary, and reasonable'. when determining what will and will not be covered. Your endodontist may have signed contracts with particular insurance providers as well, in which case certain claims may be paid in full. This is called a 'Participating Provider' and they are part of a list of specialists that insurance providers will note as members of their network. Other endodontists may not have such special agreements signed and in those cases there may be a number of items that are not covered by your insurance. In cases such as these, you will want to have a discussion and obtain a thorough accounting of your out-of-pocket expenses prior to receiving any treatments. This can help you to avoid any expensive 'surprises'.
Your local endodontist is an excellent specialist to have on hand when you absolutely want to preserve as much of your natural teeth as possible. Yes, a standard dentist can perform a root canal, but the extra training that an endodontist receives, in addition to their specialized and current technology and pain management expertise... well, let's just say that the difference is night and day. So if you need a root canal, be sure to consider your endodontist and retain your original teeth well into those golden years!