Why Your Dentist Refers You to a Specialist

Best_DentistMany dentists know how to do root canals and keep your gums healthy, but will still recommend you to a specialist. Before you wonder why you have been handed over to someone you don’t know, ask your dentist.

“We refer a patient because we are looking for the best outcome to a dental problem,” says Dr. Carol Ford. “And the best solution is in the hands of a specialist who knows the most about the procedure that needs to be done,” she adds.

You may believe that a general dentist is the person who will do it all for you, from hygiene or routine maintenance to root canals. That’s not always the best use of a dentist’s expertise. While having your dentist do everything you need done in one office visit seems like a good way to save time, it may not be the best way to save your teeth.

“A dentist is a great judge of the extent of the problem as well as the best judge of who can do the repair or restoration work, “ says Dr. Ford. “That’s the dentist’s expertise—making the right judgment call.” When your dentist sends you to a specialist, it’s because the specialist does many more of the procedures you need to have done than your dentist. While a dentist might do four root canals a week, an endodontist (root canal specialist) may do eight to 10 root canals in a single day.

There’s also the matter of training. According to the web magazine DearDoctor.com, which focuses on dental and oral health topics, “Periodontal [gum] specialists spend three or more years in residency studying to become specialists in the diagnosis and management of these diseases and disorders.”  A specialist may know more about your specific problem than your dentist.

“That kind of concentrated practice builds much more than speed,” says Dr. Ford. “It builds problem solving skills, experience, and expertise,” she adds. And that means less time lost through multiple visits, less work time lost through possible discomfort, and more enjoyable time with the family because of lasting results.

When your dentist sends you to a specialist, it is a sign of trust in the recommended specialist and a sign of respect for your long-term dental health. In Dr. Ford’s case, many of the specialists she refers to respect her work enough to recommend her as one of the Valley’s Best Dentists.

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