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Why Would My Dentist Refer Me Elsewhere?

Root Canals or ‘Endos’
October 12, 2021

Today I will be talking about cases where your dentist recommends seeing another dentist instead, for a particular procedure.

A lot of people ask – why would I want to see another dentist? I like my dentist. Can’t they do what I need?

This can sometimes get a bit complicated, and there is no absolute right or wrong answer in most cases, so what I will try to do is explain the factors that could influence your dentist’s recommendation and your decision.

First off, there are a lot of different aspects to dentistry – common procedures like fillings, more complex but still common procedures like crowns, then tooth extractions, implanting manufactured teeth, creating and affixing sets of teeth called bridges, working with the bone in your jaw, working with the roots of the teeth, opposed to the tooth itself, working with your gums and tissue in your mouth, jaw and bite alignment and adjustments, moving teeth with braces or aligners, and cosmetic work which can be a combination of all of this. The list goes on, and within each type, there are multiple factors that make it more or less complicated. Most dentists do not do all of these types of procedures, and even when they do, it may not be something they do a lot of and therefore do not have the same level of experience and skill as someone who does a lot more of that type of procedure.

When a dentist does not feel they personally can do, or do well, or want to do, a particular type of procedure, they have a few options. The most common is to refer you to a specialist — a dentist with advanced education in that one aspect of dentistry. In fact, when a dentist becomes a specialist, that is all they are allowed to do – they give up ‘regular’ dentistry and concentrate fully on that one type of dentistry. Specialists are definitely the most qualified, but are also significantly more expensive than a regular dentist.

The other option is to refer to another regular dental clinic, or another dentist in the same clinic. Sometimes larger clinics are very beneficial for this – it is common that each of the dentists in the larger clinic have specific areas of interest and skill. For example, in my clinic, we have one dentist that does the majority of our root canals, another that does the majority of our extractions, another that does a majority of our gum grafting, another that does the majority of the cosmetic dentistry. That is what they like, and what they are better at than the other dentists.

So, your primary dentist may recommend another dentist in the clinic for specific procedures. The two dentists would work collaboratively, with your primary dentist still guiding your overall treatment, but having the dentist with more experience in that procedure do the actual ‘hands on’ treatment. This can be a great alternative to a specialist, as you get someone with more experience in the procedure, stay in the same office, and do not need to pay additional specialist fees.That said – if a procedure is complex or difficult enough, it may be that the more advanced knowledge and training of a specialist is required. Your dentist should be able to let you know if that is the case.

So – in short, not all dentists have the same interests, experience and services offered. When dealing with a particular procedure, do not be surprised if your dentist recommends seeing another dentist to get it completed. Sometimes this will be a specialist, or, if you go to a clinic with multiple dentists, you may get recommended to another dentist in the clinic who has more interest and experience than your regular dentist in that procedure. This is a good thing – it shows that your dentist is finding you the best person for the job, -even if it is not them.

I hope this gives you some more insight into the wide range of services offered by dentists, how and why not every dentist offers the same procedures, and why you may get referred to another dentist -a regular dentist or a specialist – to have a specific procedures done by someone other than your regular dentist.