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“Why do I need an endodontic evaluation before starting my root canal treatment?” This question may have crossed your mind, especially when your dentist has already diagnosed the need for a root canal. You’ve already been to one dental provider, and now you have to go to another and get another consult? What gives?
I promise, it’s not just to waste your money or your time. It’s actually meant to save both!
I want to walk through the reasons behind a separate endodontic evaluation, and why you’ll be glad you had it.
Why do you need an endodontic evaluation? To make sure you get the treatment you actually need.
Let’s dig into what I mean when I say that your endodontic consultation can actually save you money and time.
I am sure you have a wonderful dentist. And what if they might have misdiagnosed the tooth or incorrectly identified the source of your oral health concern? I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus… I’m just saying that this happens. It has happened to me before, in fact! You can read about my disastrous misdiagnosis as a patient here.
A phenomenon called “referred pain” happens all the time in dentistry (and medicine in general), where the part of your body that hurts isn’t actually the source of the infection or problem. This happens because of our complex system of nerves, and it can make the origin point of the pain difficult to pinpoint. It can throw anyone for a loop, including experienced dental providers!
During your endodontic evaluation, your endodontist will confirm the diagnosis made by your dentist. We have specialized equipment that your general dentist typically does not have that will make this possible… plus tons of experience. After all, we do root canals all day every day, so we know what to look for! Our consultation ensures that we are treating the right tooth, and that a root canal is actually the appropriate solution for you.
For instance, most endodontists have specialized three-dimensional imaging technology called “cone beam computed tomography” or CBCT for short. This is advanced imaging that provides detailed information about your unique dental anatomy from any angle. This gives your endodontist an insight into what is happening inside your tooth before they ever access it.
Every now and then, a patient comes into my office who doesn’t actually need a root canal at all, and having a consult with me saves them money and time they don’t need to spend with an endodontist. From there, I can send them to an oral surgeon or another dental provider who suits their actual needs.
Finally, your consult gives your endodontist a chance to collaborate with other dental specialists as needed in order to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to you.
You are a whole person, and your endodontic evaluation acknowledges that.
As endodontists, we prioritize understanding your complete medical history during the endodontic evaluation because you, my friend, are a whole person! Your mouth is the gateway to your entire body, and your overall health impacts your oral health.
I ask my patients about any medical conditions or situations that might impact their treatment plan and any antibiotics and/or pain management I might prescribe. I also ask them about their current pain level, so that I can evaluate how urgently they need treatment.
Unless you are in tons of pain, you shouldn’t always expect your root canal to happen the same day as your consultation. Many endodontists (myself included) schedule the consult and treatment on different days, so that there is plenty of time for your treatment in the schedule, and we don’t have to interrupt your treatment and numb you twice.
By talking with my patients about their medical background and the history of their tooth, I listen for any details that could help me prevent any complications that otherwise might show up. Plus, it allows me to tailor my treatment approach to each patient’s specific needs.
We are healers, after all!
An endodontic evaluation empowers you to be an informed patient.
Root canals can have a bad rap, but thanks to a deeper scientific understanding and some badass new technology, the modern day root canal is so much more comfortable than root canals of the past. During your endodontic evaluation, your provider will give you information about what a root canal is, why your tooth needs it, and what to expect.
I always believe in transparent and thorough communication with my patients, and I know most of my endodontic colleagues feel the same way. We want you to understand the treatment process and how it will help you out.
If you are feeling anxious about your treatment or have any questions, your endodontist can definitely answer those questions for you, so that you feel well-informed and prepared. Plus, many providers are happy to prescribe a sedative like valium to help create a more positive root canal experience. At the end of the day, your comfort and well-being should always come first, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself if you’re feeling anxiety!
Let’s be real, the other reason your consult can help reduce your anxiety is allowing you to decide whether your endodontist is a good fit for you! How do you feel talking to your endodontist? Do they listen to you? Are they confident in their ability to treat you? What is your gut telling you? You deserve a strong patient-doctor relationship built on trust, because this is about your health! You have a right to the highest quality of care.
Why do you need an endodontic consult? To make sure your treatment has the best possible outcome.
When you have your endodontic evaluation, I hope you feel confident about your provider and the appropriateness of your treatment plan. The more you arm yourself with knowledge, the more empowered you will be.
Every patient and every tooth is unique, so your consult will make sure that your diagnosis is correct, your unique needs and concerns are addressed, and your health history is taken into account.
You deserve to be empowered in your own health! Never forget that.
If you’d like support with becoming better informed about endodontic well-being, I invite you to check out my e-book for patients. It’s called Tooth Wisdom: The Empowered Patient’s Guide to Saving Your Smile, and I wrote it with you in mind.