Oral Surgeon vs Endodontist - What are the differences?

Oral Surgeon vs Endodontist - What are the differences?

Jul 06, 2023

Dental symptoms like severe tooth pain, impacted wisdom teeth, and gum inflammation can develop without notice. When you visit your family dentist for treatment, they may mention that you need specialized dental care. The dental field has a range of subspecialties for diagnosing and managing oral conditions. Two of these specialties are oral surgery and endodontics.

Knowing the different dental specialists can help you understand and seek the most appropriate treatment for optimal oral health. In this article, let’s explore the differences between endodontists and oral surgeons.

What is an Endodontist?

Endodontics focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and managing issues related to the tooth’s interior or dental pulp. The pulp is the innermost chamber that compromises the tooth’s nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels. The term “Endodontics” originates from the Greek words “endo,” meaning inside, and “odont,” meaning tooth. Thus, endodontics means inside of the tooth.

An endodontic dentist deals with issues related to the tooth’s pulp. After dental school, endodontists undergo additional two to three years of specialized training in endodontics. Their expertise is focused on performing various dental procedures like complex root canal therapy, root canal retreatments, endodontic surgeries, and dental trauma.

What is an oral surgeon?

Oral or maxillofacial surgery is any surgical procedure in or around the mouth, jaw, and sinuses. Oral surgeons specialize in preventing and treating various injuries, diseases, and abnormalities in the teeth, gums, jawbone, neck, face, and head.

After dental school, an oral surgeon completes an additional four to six years of specialized training in oral surgery. It allows them to perform minor to complete oral surgical procedures like corrective jaw surgery, impacted wisdom tooth extractions, bone grafting, dental implant surgery, facial trauma surgery, palate repair, and treatment of oral cancer.

Area of specialty: Endodontists VS. Oral Surgeons

While both specialists aim to manage oral issues, they deal with different specialty areas.  

Endodontists specialize in diagnosing and treating issues affecting the inside of a tooth (pulp). They focus on saving your tooth and relieving pain. For instance, an endodontist can perform a root canal to remove an infected or inflamed pulp. Eliminating the infection prevents further tooth damage and eliminates any discomfort.

On the other hand, oral surgeons focus on the correction of various oral and facial issues through surgical procedures. For instance, an oral surgeon can help place dental implants to replace missing teeth. Similarly, oral surgeons perform complex tooth extractions like impacted wisdom teeth extractions.

When to see an Endodontist

Below are common reasons you may need to visit our endodontic dentist near you:

  • Severe tooth pain: Intense or persistent tooth pain indicates an infected pulp, and you might need a root canal.
  • Tooth sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to extreme temperatures can indicate your nerves are exposed, and you might need a root canal.
  • Tooth discoloration. Discoloration or darkening of a painful tooth often indicates pulp infections or trauma, and you might need endodontist treatment.
  • Gum tenderness or swelling: Soreness, pain, or swelling near a painful tooth can indicate a pulp infection, and you might require endodontic treatment.
  • Tooth abscess: A painful pus-filled pimple or bump near a painful tooth can suggest a tooth infection and might require endodontic treatment.
  • Tooth trauma: Tooth damage like cracks or fractures can expose the pulp, leading to infections and requiring endodontic treatments.
  • Tooth decay or cavities: Deep cavities or decay can expose the tooth’s pulp, causing the need for endodontic treatments.

When to See an Oral Surgeon

Some of the reasons why your dentist can refer you to an oral surgeon include:

  • Complex tooth extractions. While the key priority is saving your natural tooth, there are instances when extraction is necessary. If the tooth can’t be extracted simply, your dental office may refer you to a surgeon for extraction. Symptoms that can cause the need for surgical tooth extraction include severe tooth decay, advanced gum disease, cavities underneath the gum line, and impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Dental implant surgery. Dental implants are implanted into the jawbone through surgery. While a general dentist can place implants, working with an oral surgeon increases your chances of successful implant surgery.
  • Jaw trauma or irregularities. Your dentist can refer you to a surgeon to correct jaw injuries or irregularities like TMJ and misaligned bites.
  • Facial trauma or irregularities. Oral surgery can help correct facial injuries or facial and jaw irregularities.
  • Oral pathology. An oral surgeon can help diagnose and treat abnormal or suspicious oral tissues like lesions, sores, and growths.
  • Advanced sleep apnea. If your sleep apnea doesn’t respond to other treatments like CPAP, you may need oral surgery to address the cause of your condition.
  • TMJ disorders. Chronic TMJ disorders or dysfunction may require advanced treatments like joint replacement surgery.

Visit our dental office for specialized dental care

Do you have untreated dental and oral issues? Contact Jersey Smile to book a consultation with our dentist in Berkeley Heights, NJ, for specialized care.

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