Dental insurance helps with making the care of your teeth affordable. However, some patients become confused when it comes to referrals. A common question that we get at Innovative Endodontics is, “Do I need a referral to see an endodontist?” The answer is not as simple as yes or no. Let’s break down this issue’s specifics to understand better when you may need to get a referral.
For health insurance, you usually need to go to your primary care physician to get a referral to see a specialist. The doctor determines the best type of specialist to visit based on your symptoms and an exam. The situation often is similar for dental care. There are dental specialists to whom your dentist may refer you to treat certain conditions or symptoms.
In dentistry, an endodontist is a specialist in root canal treatment. They don’t offer all the same types of treatments that general dentists do. Dentists care for the general health of the teeth and gums, providing preventive care and restorative treatments. However, endodontists care for the inside of teeth and treat pain and infection. In many cases, you will go to your general dentist and may find out that you need a root canal after the dentist does an exam. If you have a recommendation for endodontic care, visiting a root canal specialist will give you access to an expert in your teeth’s roots.
Endodontists work exclusively on the interior of teeth. They can clean out inflammation or infection from canals through root canal therapy or perform surgery on the tip of the tooth to treat the roots. These dental specialists can also retreat teeth with previous root canal therapies that failed. Lastly, endodontists can help repair cracked teeth because the cracks often expose the roots of the teeth, necessitating root canal treatment.
Though general dentists occasionally perform root canal treatments, they often do not have the same level of experience or technology as endodontists. For instance, an endodontist performs up to 40 root canals weekly, whereas a general dentist may conduct one or two each week or fewer.
Another area in which endodontists specialize is pain management and prevention. During their years of specialist training, endodontists learn how to keep patients comfortable during endodontic treatment, including methods for mitigating pain and discomfort during and aftercare. If you are concerned about pain during your treatment, you should see an endodontist who knows the best ways to keep you pain-free during your procedure and as well as minimizing discomfort after.
You should always maintain regular dental appointments for cleanings and exams. During these preventative dental care sessions, the doctor may notice signs of an endodontic problem. Not everyone experiences serious pain when they need root canal therapy. In fact, some people may ignore the pain, especially if they have other conditions, such as tooth grinding or gum disease.
Your dentist might refer you to an endodontist for specialized care in the following instances:
You may make an appointment directly with an endodontist if you have tooth pain in a tooth that previously had a root canal treatment or a cracked tooth. The same case is true if you will pay cash for all services.
Endodontists can help you through retreating teeth and fixing cracked teeth. However, they also work closely with your regular dentist, ensuring you get to care for the inside and outside of your tooth.
For instance, if you need root canal treatment on a molar, you will likely need to go back to your dentist to get a crown over the treated tooth to provide extra protection against the strong forces that your teeth experience.
Your dentist may also identify the need for endodontic treatment during your regular exams. Annual exams and twice-yearly cleanings can keep your teeth healthy and prevent the need for extensive endodontic treatment. Therefore, even if you know a great endodontist and have insurance, you still need to find a quality dentist for your general dental care.
If you don’t know whether your insurance requires referrals for dental specialists, you should contact them by calling the customer care number on your insurance card. They can let you know whether you need to have referrals to specialists and if the plan covers the specialist you want to visit. The best time to make this call is before having dental pain that requires endodontic care.
If you need endodontic care, contact us at Innovative Endodontics. We can work with your regular dentist in creating a referral for your insurance through our paper-less online referral system.
Whether you need a referral or not for your insurance company, we’re happy to help you with your dental care. Endodontic treatment can help you save teeth that might be lost without timely care. Therefore, don’t wait to set up your appointment with us. Let us help you to keep smiling. Contact us at Innovative Endodontics today.