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News / February 11, 2014

Dentists need better dialogue with endodontists

by Guy Hiscott

A US study has called on better cooperation between endodontists and dentists.

US dentists referred only 43% of patients who needed root canal treatment, according to research from the American Association of Endodontists (AAE).

Nearly 38% of surveyed dentists admitted performing root canals that should have been referred to an endodontist.

The study also found that endodontists recommended by word-of-mouth was an effective way for referral procedures (83%).

Researchers also noted that ‘showing signs of appreciation’, such as holiday gifts, was not an effective way to foster relationships with endodontists.

Dr James Wolcott, clinical assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Dentistry, commented: ‘Dentists don’t need help with those straightforward, tough treatments, where it clearly needs to be sent out, it’s guiding them in the middle, when maybe it would be a better choice to refer.

‘There needs to be a partnership there so we can have that dialogue.’

The researchers noted: ‘The perception that endodontists are partners in patient care and endodontic services are worth the cost was strongly related to the likelihood of referring.’

The results of the survey were published in the Journal of Endodontics (February 2014, Vol. 40:2, pp.204-210).


UPDATE – 12/02/14

Irish Dentistry spoke to Dr Hal Duncan, president of the Irish Endodontic Society (IES), about his take on the survey’s findings in relation to Irish dentists and endodontists.

He said: ‘The interesting aspect that this survey highlights is that many GDPs would like a more developed relationship with their endodontist, even if they elect not to refer the patient.

‘In times of economic hardship, like we have recently experienced in Ireland, the volume of referrals decreases. This is due to a combination of patients opting to have the tooth extracted or the general practitioner electing to carry out the root canal treatment in their own surgery.

‘This increased communication, therefore, would permit easier discussion of difficult cases, greater access to assistance if needs be, or indeed, provide rapid advice to decide which cases are suitable to treat and which should be referred.’

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