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As a dentist, do you consider yourself to be a healer? In some circles, the word “healer” has taken on some woo-woo vibes in recent years, and while I’m not above woo-woo practices myself, I also want us to think deeply about the term and how it applies to all of us. At the end of the day, it’s an honor and a privilege to heal people’s mouths—the gateways to our bodies. It’s a sacred oath and a beautiful calling. And, let’s be real, if you really want to heal your patients, you can’t ignore the importance of endodontics to the equation.
That’s because endo is about saving natural teeth rather than extracting them. I’ve seen endodontic treatment heal teeth that just about everyone would condemn. I’ve seen root canals heal enormous lesions and regrow bone more times than I can count. I’m a believer!
Endodontics is regenerative medicine, and I don’t care what you say. And while I don’t think every dentist needs to feel comfortable with endodontics, I do believe that understanding the importance of endodontics is crucial for us to be powerful healers.
Recently, I was interviewed by Mary McMonagle on the Living Your True Vibe Podcast, which is centered on spiritual journeys, including energy, intuition, manifesting, and healing. To me, endodontics is spiritual, because it’s a form of healing. So, I wanted to share this message with Mary’s audience. You can check out the podcast here.
As I spoke to Mary, I considered our healing role as dentists, and I’d like to share my thoughts with you here.
Confronting the Perception of Dentistry and Endodontics
Unfortunately, the average person on the street isn’t a big fan of the dentist or dental specialist. I can’t really blame them for not enjoying having their mouth poked and prodded.
Fortunately, this anxiety is offset by the amazing work we’ve been doing to create public health awareness in many countries about the importance of brushing and flossing, as well as regular cleanings. There’s still a ton of work to be done here, particularly in developing nations, but I’m encouraged by the continued progress and advancements in technology.
I was recently reading a report from the World Health Organization from 2022 about where we can keep making improvements. There are 2.5 billion people in the world with untreated dental caries, making it the number one most common oral health condition around the world.
As you know, caries can ultimately lead to a patient needing a root canal. And if a patient gets to that point, endodontics is literally the only thing that’s going to save that tooth from extraction.
So while patients might be fearful of the words “root canal” coming out of your mouth, it’s up to you as their dentist to assure them that a) the root canal will heal them, and b) the root canal doesn’t hurt—it actually resolves your pain.
Dentists Have a Responsibility to Debunk Endo Myths
I’m sure you’ve heard all the myths about how root canals are “toxic” or bad for your health. It all stems from the focal infection theory… which was disproven over a century ago! But there is some misinformation out there on the internet that keeps these misconceptions alive.
So what’s a dentist to do?
Educate, educate, educate.
When a patient needs a root canal, teach them about the importance of endodontics as a type of regenerative medicine. Endo will heal them, not make them sicker.
As much as I believe in implants and have some myself, it’s starting to look like they aren’t as long-lasting or problem-free as we previously thought.
Through educating your patients about endo, you can also teach them how their natural teeth are vital for so many parts of their lives: nourishing them with nutrition, giving them hydration, maintaining and supporting their airway, creating confidence, and helping them stay attractive and cheerful.
Mother Nature gave us our pearly whites for a reason, but so many people just take them for granted. It’s on us to help change that.
As a Dentist, You Can Help Patients Trust their Bodies
If you’ve been part of my community for a while, you already know my story about how a root canal totally changed my life. Here’s the micro-version: As a college student, I had a persistent, terrible pain that no one could diagnose, and that even led to me getting the wrong tooth extracted. I was told that the pain was all in my head… until I swelled up like a chipmunk. Finally, I was referred to an endodontist, who figured out that I had cracked a tooth. He gave me the root canal I had so desperately needed for months.
I can’t even express how terrible it was to believe I was imagining my pain. I was gaslighting myself, and totally shaking my faith in my own body and mind. The damage went beyond months of pain, having a healthy tooth extracted, and untold hours and dollars lost to senseless appointments. The damage truly was spiritual and psychological.
But I will also never forget the importance of endodontics to healing my physical and psychological pain. Not only did the root canal save my tooth, but the caring endodontist listened to me carefully, explained everything that was going on in my mouth, and reassured me that I could trust my own body.
My friends, you have the power to acknowledge your patients’ pain, and to believe them. If your patient wants a second opinion on an extraction treatment plan, try not to take it personally. The tooth truly might not be viable, but I think it’s important for us to give patients the breathing room to trust their intuition and to give their teeth a chance.
The way you talk to them, the messages you share with them, and the respect you show them can heal them—not just orally but on a deeper level. Your bedside manner can help them feel comfortable and safe, even though you’re working on a vulnerable part of their bodies. And your efforts to educate them can help them feel empowered in making decisions for their care.
The Importance of Endodontics to Healing Can’t Be Overstated
When a patient comes back into my practice for a follow-up after RCT, it’s like I’m meeting the real them for the first time.
They’re no longer in pain. They’ve had a chance to sleep. They’re able to eat normally. They’re able to focus on their work and hobbies again.
There have even been a few cases where I have literally cured their sinusitis, because it was all coming from a tooth!
As Mary said in the podcast interview, “We are unstoppable!”
Truly, the only thing that can stop us is when we don’t lean into the true power and importance of endodontics. As a dentist, I want to empower you to really embrace endodontics, even if you never do a root canal. When you’re able to diagnose correctly, treat or refer, and give your patients the care they need, you are healing them, their mouths, and the world.
I invite you to check out E-School, my award-winning endodontic CE program for dentists. It takes you back to the basics, and then dives deep into advanced topics so you can make tweaks in your practice that make a huge difference for you and your patients. Improve outcomes, enhance your confidence as a provider, and reduce your chair time to become more profitable. Win-win!