If you needed surgery inside your mouth, would you know the correct specialist to choose for the operation? While both oral surgeons and endodontists can perform surgery, they have many more differences than similarities.
Find out more about their differences and how to compare an endodontist vs an oral surgeon.
As oral health professionals, endodontists and oral surgeons have some similarities in what they do and their education. However, these parallels do not make these specialists interchangeable. Each has a specific focus and goal that makes them better suited to the types of treatments they perform.
Both endodontists and oral surgeons can perform surgery inside the mouth. In fact, the only specific type of condition that both specialists treat is the treatment of a damaged tooth. They both address this problem in different ways, with unique goals.
An endodontist will do whatever possible to preserve at least some of a damaged tooth by performing intricate work on the tooth’s root canals. The aim of this specialist is to preserve your natural teeth when feasible.
An oral surgeon may prefer to extract the damaged tooth and put an implant into the jaw instead; an oral surgeon’s goal is to preserve your smile in the most efficient way possible, even if it requires implants, bone grafts, or extractions.
Both endodontists and oral surgeons first have full training as dentists. Therefore, they start with the same education that your general dentist has. However, after dental school, endodontists and oral surgeons separate their education paths to prepare them for their respective specialties. Both specialists complete extra years of training to learn how to properly operate on patients and provide the pain relief needed during and after surgery.
Though both endodontists and oral surgeons are highly trained, they have major differences in their training and the types of treatments they perform. Your dentist will refer you to the correct specialist for the type of procedure you need.
After completing dental school, both oral surgeons and endodontists will begin their years of specialty training. During this training, each will learn more about the specific conditions they will treat and the types of surgery they will perform.
Endodontists require at least two to three years of extra training to learn more about the interior of the teeth, tooth pulp, and how to perform endodontic surgery and root canal treatments. They also learn about managing pain in patients by perfecting their administration of local anesthetics and learning how to use the latest technological devices to minimize pain and discomfort.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must continue their education with four to six years of residency after dental school. Those who do six years earn a full medical degree in addition to an oral surgery specialization that includes training in administering both local and IV sedation anesthesia. Even after these years of education, oral and maxillofacial surgeons may undergo an additional year or two in specialty areas such as treating head and neck cancer, performing cosmetic facial surgeries, reconstructing faces for patients with facial trauma, and pediatric surgeries.
Another major difference between endodontists and oral surgeons is what they treat. In fact, your dentist uses the conditions treated by each to inform their decision of where to refer you for treatment.
Endodontists typically treat conditions involving the function and integrity of the teeth. You may go to an endodontist for treatment if you have extreme tooth sensitivity that does not go away, a broken tooth, tooth pain, or gum swelling. These conditions indicate the possible need for a root canal or endodontic surgery.
Oral surgeons treat problems that affect the entire mouth and face. For instance, they may conduct sinus surgery, do a bone graft to prepare the jaw for an implant, extract wisdom teeth or other teeth, or treat trauma to the bones and soft tissues of the face.
You will visit an endodontist if you need surgery inside a tooth. Examples of these types of treatment include retreatment for a root canal or surgery on a tooth’s root.
Endodontists use microsurgery techniques and local anesthesia to operate on the small spaces inside your teeth. The aim of the operations they perform is to help you to avoid needing an extraction.
Oral surgeons can perform more complex procedures on the entire mouth or face or do surgery inside the mouth that may require sedation anesthesia. Examples of surgeries that your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon include wisdom tooth extractions, implant placement, or full-mouth reconstruction.
Endodontists spend their extra training learning about the pulp and interior of teeth. They also learn how to perform microsurgery. This type of operation requires the use of surgical microscopes to see the intricate passages inside the tooth.
Oral surgeons focus more on the larger mouth structures and learn about bones, teeth, and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and head. Therefore, the types of surgeries that oral surgeons perform typically focus on larger areas than those that endodontists work on.
If your dentist recommends treatment to preserve your natural tooth surgery, retreat a root canal, or preserve a damaged tooth, you need an endodontist. Don’t wait too long to get endodontic therapy. While endodontists do everything to save your teeth, they may not be able to save a tooth if infection or damage has spread too far. If treatment is sought too late, you will need an extraction instead. Once your tooth damage progresses to requiring an extraction, you will need to contact an oral surgeon. This specialist will pull the tooth and may place an implant to replace the missing tooth.
Always discuss your treatment needs with your dentist to find out about the type of specialist you should go to. The dental office can give you a referral for your procedure to ensure insurance coverage. Suppose you require endodontic surgery from us at Innovative Endodontics. In that case, your dentist can visit our online referral portal, or you can give us a call to book your appointment with Dr. Estes.
Don’t wait to get endodontic treatment. If you get the treatment done in a timely manner, Dr. Estes could save a tooth that you might otherwise lose!
For more information about our practice, contact our office in Moncks Corner, SC, near Charleston. You can also call us to set up an appointment for endodontic treatment or surgery. We can’t wait to help you preserve your smile!