Root Canal Referrals


Root Canal Referrals – Do General Dentists Need Endodontists?

Some general dentists enjoy root canals, while others prefer to send all root canal patients to an endodontist, finds a survey by The Wealthy Dentist. Referrals are not just based on how difficult a restorative dentistry case is — it's also about how much a doctor enjoys doing root canals.

February 5, 2009 (San Francisco, California) Most dentists offer root canal therapy, but they vary on how often they refer root canals out to endodontists. In this survey by internet dental marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist, one out of four dentists said they do virtually all root canal treatment in-house, and another 31% only refer out about one-quarter of root canals. On the other hand, 17%
of dentists refer out all root canals to a dental specialist in endodontics.

Though general dentists are trained in root canals, endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment and tooth pain. "Thank god for endodontists," raved a New York prosthodontist.

Some general dentists genuinely enjoy offering root canal therapy. "I love doing root canal treatments, raved a North Carolina dentist. "It is most pleasing to me personally. It keeps me motivated and challenged." Agreed a Connecticut dentist, "I enjoy and perform 90% of my own root canals."

Difficult root canal cases end up being referred to a specialist. "I do them all in-house unless there are complicating factors such as very calcified canals, unusual root curvatures, and complex anatomies," said a Texas dentist. "I also refer most of the re-treatment and surgical cases." A New York dental anesthesiologist resident said, "Before I sold the practice, I would only send out the really tough ones that might take an unpredictable amount of time."

Endodontists tend to have a more critical perspective. "If every dentist could spend 1 week in my endodontic practice, they would all stop doing endodontics, " declared a Nevada endodontist. "The quality of work is terrible. I see so many hacked-up teeth with gigantic accesses, separated files, perforated roots, etc… It is embarrassing. Then I have to retreat the case or do surgery on something that could have been avoided if they would have referred it to someone with a microscope
and a clue."

Few dentists get excited about an abscessed tooth that's also a molar. "I feel that dentists can easily get in over their heads when doing molar root canals!" said an Alabama dentist. A Kentucky dentist agreed, saying, "I stay away from molars typically. The ones I get back from the endodontist seem to all have 4 canals, and I do not have a microscope to help find that fourth canal."

Some dentists feel referring a patient out leads to the best care for root canal pain. "I do not want my patients to associate the need for their root canal with my need to make money," offered a Florida dentist. "I feel that patients are more likely to accept root canal treatment with referrals to a specialist I have used for my own dental needs."

"Sometimes it's not just about finances or how difficult a case is," said Jim Du Molin, dental patient marketing guru and founder of dental management resource The Wealthy Dentist. "Some dentists love root canals. Others hate them. You can bet that's a major factor affecting how many patients they treat versus how
many they refer out."

Du Molin invites readers to visit his blog at and comment on this survey.


Visit to learn more about The Wealthy Dentist's surveys in the areas of dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, dental Insurance,
braces, and find a dentist. Jim Du Molin offers a free weekly newsletter and dental practice management advice.


Jim Du Molin

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