What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of oral pain, diseases and injuries involving the roots of teeth, their surrounding tissues, and in particular their pulps (the central part of teeth which contains the nerves and blood vessels supplying the teeth).
What is a specialist in Endodontics?
A specialist in Endodontics can either work in private specialist practices, in the hospital service, or in community dental clinics.
What treatments can a specialist in Endodontics carry out?
Root canal treatment (RCT) is a common treatment carried out by endodontists. It involves removing infected pulp tissue from the inside of the tooth, and thorough cleaning and filling of this space to seal the root canal system in order to prevent further infection and pain. Root canal treatment is usually carried out on decayed teeth where the infection has spread to the pulp. It may also be carried out on teeth that are badly injured where the pulp is involved or at risk from infection. The main advantage of root canal treatment is that it can restore a dead tooth to normal function without the need for extraction.
If root canal treatment fails, and the tooth is subsequently re-infected, this can usually be re-root treated, but sometimes an apicectomy is necessary. This is a surgical procedure whereby the root of the tooth is accessed through the bone by raising a flap of overlying gum and drilling through a small amount of bone. A portion of the tip of the infected root is removed, the infected root is cleaned and disinfected, and then sealed with a small filling.
General dental practitioners (GDPs) may refer difficult cases to specialists in Endodontics; for example in cases where the root canal system is complex, in cases where root canal treatment has been unsuccessful, or if a problem has occurred such as broken instruments in the root canal system.
What additional training qualifications does a specialist in Endodontics need?
To apply for speciality training, registered dentists must have a minimum of two years of postgraduate general professional training (GPT), and have successfully obtained Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (MFDS) or equivalent from the Royal College of Surgeons.
Speciality training involves three years of postgraduate training to prepare for the Master of Clinical Dentistry (MClinDent) in Endodontics examination. Trainees must also sit the Diploma of Membership in Restorative Dentistry (MRD) examination set by the Royal College of Surgeons. This examination covers all aspects of general restorative dentistry, and will also test their knowledge in the subject of endodontics. On successful completion of these examinations, trainees will be awarded the Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST), which allows them to apply to for inclusion on to the endodontic speciality list.