Endodontist Job Description
Endodontists diagnose and treat severe oral pain, significantly improving their patients’ quality of life. Representing less than 3 percent of dentists, they are medical specialists who care for the interior of teeth, which primarily involves root canal treatment and surgery. Endodontists typically work normal business hours at a private clinic.Many offices will employ an endodontist for a few days a month, an arrangement that provides the practitioner with plenty of flexibility regarding their overall workload. Many endodontists hold partnerships or other ownership stakes in their businesses and earn excellent income if they can build a thriving practice.
Endodontist Duties and Responsibilities
While endodontists work under a variety of employment arrangements, there are several key tasks relating to internal tooth care that they generally carry out. These duties include:
Treat Dental Pulp
Endodontists perform root canals and other advanced procedures designed to treat dental pulp and save damaged teeth. When necessary, they must operate on teeth. The prototypical endodontic service is the “root canal,” an umbrella term that covers several procedures. Nonsurgical root canal therapy involves drilling into teeth and cleaning the tissue inside.
Perform Root Canal Surgery
For serious tooth infections, endodontists perform surgery beneath the gum to remove severely diseased pulp and replace it with inert material that will help preserve the integrity of the tooth. These operations require incisions and additional care with regards to pain management.
Aside from root canals, endodontists perform repairs or extractions on cracked teeth and can often save teeth that have been knocked out of a patient’s mouth by replanting them in their sockets. They also maintain teeth that have been previously subjected to root canal procedures by reopening and cleaning them.
Endodontist Skills and Qualifications
Sharp eyes and patience serve endodontists particularly well due to the small-scale nature of their work. Endodontists must also be skilled in a variety of areas:
- Dental proficiency – endodontists leverage their advanced dental knowledge to identify the causes of serious tooth pain, prescribe appropriate treatments, and perform delicate operations
- Surgical precision – steady hands, strong hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills play key roles in successful endodontic procedures
- Patient care – despite major advances in endodontic technology, root canal operations still have a particularly fearsome reputation among medical procedures .Effective endodontists project a strong “bedside manner” that puts patients at ease, helps them cooperate, and alleviates their stress
- Small group leadership – endodontists supervise assistants in the operating room; depending on their employer’s ownership structure, they may also supervise office managers, receptionists, and other support staff
- Financial management – endodontists who own their practices also tend to the finances of a small business
- Time management – an endodontist may see as many as eight patients a day and must provide effective treatment to each one in a timely manner
- Networking – endodontists typically receive referrals from general dentists; developing strong relationships with colleagues keeps a steady flow of clients incoming
Tools of the Trade
Endodontists use a variety of specialized equipment for their role:
- Digital X-ray equipment and imaging software
- Drills and burs
Endodontist Education and Training
As medical specialists, endodontists undergo extensive education and training. In addition to their undergraduate schooling and four years of dental education, candidates train for two or three years in an advanced endodontic program or residency. Their education involves extensive hands-on clinical work with current practitioners.
Endodontists are licensed to practice dentistry by state and may also become certified nationally through the American Board of Endodontics examination. Board certification is the highest credential available in the profession and opens up many top-tier employment opportunities. Due to the prevalence of pain medication in endodontic work, they must also obtain licenses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Endodontist Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for specialist dentists such as endodontists is over $190,000 a year. This may come in the form of wages or a salary from an employer or through the practitioner’s own business entity.
The earnings for dental specialists are about $40,000 a year higher than those of general dentists, reflecting the additional training required. Due to the varied nature of their employment structures, endodontists’ income and hours may vary considerably.
Does the endodontics profession sound like a good fit for you? Learn more about dentistry with the following resources:
Your Essential Guide to Dental School Admissions – this book, written with input from successful applicants to top dental schools, provides a wealth of information on applying for dental school admission. This education is the foundation of an endodontist’s knowledge and is just as important as postgraduate studies
Dental School: Preparation, Survival, and Success – getting into dental school is just the beginning of an aspiring endodontist’s training. Written by an experienced dentist, this book will help students get the most out of their dental school experience and build the skills and the networks needed to excel professionally
American Board of Endodontics – the ABE provides the highest level of professional credentialing for dentists in this specialty. Here you can learn more about what it takes to get to the front of the pack
American Association of Endodontists – the parent organization of the American Board of Endodontics, the AAE is the main professional organization supporting the endodontist profession
American Dental Association – all endodontists are also dentists, and this website from the ADA provides a wealth of information specifically geared towards aspiring dental professionals
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