Dental Specialist Referrals


Most Dentists Not Angry with Dental Specialists over Referrals

General dentists report that specialists usually refer their dental patients back to them, according to a recent survey by The Wealthy Dentist. However, this is not always the case, especially with periodontists and prosthodontists.

June 21, 2008 (San Francisco, California) Dentists were asked how frequently their patients are referred back after being sent out for treatment by specialists in a recent survey by dental practice management resource The Wealthy Dentist. The clear majority said they always or almost always got their patients back.

Dentists reported that prosthodontists were the worst offenders when it comes to not referring patients back. There were also complaints about pediatric dentists and periodontists. Dentists were happiest with oral surgeons, orthodontists, and endodontists.

There’s no way for general dentists to avoid sending patients out to dental specialists for treatment. “Building a good relationship with your specialists is critical," advised a Pennsylvania cosmetic dentist. "Open lines of communication and professionalism, along with some warm and fuzzy human contact are vital elements for strengthening this relationship. Specialist referrals are our second greatest source of new patients, after existing patient referrals."

Endodontists (practitioners who specialize in root canal therapy) received mixed reviews. “Keep up the great work!” raved an Arkansas dentist. On the other hand, an Arizona dentist complained, “Endodontists love to do it all, endo and restorations. They’re too greedy."

Orthodontists (those who specialize in braces and orthodontics) also got so-so reviews from general practitioners. "Orthodontists tend to be the least receptive to input from dentists, and yet the results they get are frequently fair only," said an Illinois dentist. “Orthodontists are a great source of new patients, especially in a growing area,” commented a North Carolina dentist.

Oral surgeons frustrated some dentists and left others delighted. "Oral surgeons should return the favor!” said an Arkansas dentist. "Oral surgeons are generally receptive to treatment input from the restoring dentist, and they’re good about keeping me informed," offered an Illinois dentist.

Periodontists (those who specialize in gum disease) got some positive reviews from dentists. “I enjoy the relationship with my periodontist. He does the perio and I do the restorative. It's a non-threatening relationship because I'm not afraid that when I refer the patient that they will get lost,” said a happy California dentist.

On the other hand, some dentists were critical of periodontal specialists. “Periodontists never refer back, never keep me informed of the treatment rendered, and even refer my patients to oral surgeons for things I would like to do,” complained a Texas dentist. "Periodontists only have incoming phone lines. They never refer back,” agreed an Arizona dentist.

Pediatric dentists received a few harsh words as well. “Pedodontists never, ever refer back!" said one general dentist. "They are by far the worst of all specialists. They take the patients we refer, never thank us, and keep them as long as they want to keep coming, even into their 20’s. These guys are a huge help for the uncontrollable, but a real thorn in the side for pretty much everything else!"

"Specialists need generalists, and generalists need specialists," said Jim Du Molin, ounder of The Wealthy Dentist. "There can be animosity between the two groups, but it’s in the best interest of both the patients and the doctors to work these problems out!"


Visit for more Wealthy Dentist survey results on topics such as cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, sedation dentistry,
, wisdom teeth, and braces. Plus, sign up for Jim Du Molin's free video training program on dental website marketing.


Jim Du Molin

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