Working With My Dentist
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Working With My Dentist

A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.

Working With My Dentist

Why Are You Being Referred To A Dental Specialist?

Siiri Puro

If you've been going to the same dentist for several years now, you might be surprised if he or she refers you to see a dental specialist. After all, your dentist has been doing your cleanings, filling your cavities and placing your crowns for years now -- so what has changed? It's important to understand that being referred to a dental specialist does not mean that your dentist is lacking any skills or not wanting to provide you with personal care. In fact, a referral is a great sign that your dentist is invested in finding the best care for you and your teeth. Read on to learn why you might be referred to a particular dental specialist to meet your needs.


If you have gingivitis, or mild gum disease, your general dentist has probably been treating you. Your hygienist might see you more often than usual and you might require deeper cleanings than you did before, but until now, your family dentist has been keeping your condition under control.

While gingivitis is often able to be turned around, more serious periodontal disease can progress quickly, leading to bone loss, infections and loose teeth. If your condition progresses to the point where regular cleanings and increased oral hygiene are not keeping it controlled, this is often the point when many general dentists will refer to a periodontist. A periodontist, or gum specialist, can perform more advanced procedures, such as gum flap surgery and bone grafts, that can raise your odds of keeping your teeth.


If you've ever had a root canal treatment done by your general dentist, you might wonder why you're suddenly being referred out to an endodontist in your area for a root canal this time around. Some general dentists refer out all root canal treatments, while others refer out only infected molars or those that look like tricky cases.

Endodontists use specialized equipment that allows them to access even the twistiest and curviest nerve canals. From surgical microscopes to electronic apex-finders (a machine that tells the specialist exactly where the end of your root is), these practices usually have the tools needed to allow the endodontist to see or visualize exactly what your nerve canal looks like.

Another possible reason for a referral is if you need to have root canal therapy repeated. Performing a root canal is intricate work, but redoing an existing root canal, a procedure called an endodontic retreatment, is even more intricate. Every bit of the old filling material must be removed without leaving any behind, and sometimes the procedure needs to be done surgically. An endodontist has the training necessary to get this accomplished.

Pediatric Dentist (Pedodontist)

Some general dentists do not treat young children, and others will refer out only young patients who are unable to sit still in the dental chair to get their dental work done. If you have a small child who needs dental work done, it's not uncommon for him or her to be referred to a pedodontist, or pediatric dentist. From brightly colored rooms to cool sunglasses, aromatherapy and kid-sized nitrous oxide masks, a pediatric dentistry practice has kid-appeal as well as the expertise necessary to work with this population.

In some cases, your child will go back to your family dentist after the work has been completed, and in other cases, the child will remain a patient of the pedodontist until he or she reaches a certain age. Talk to your dentist about how this will be handled in your child's case.

If you have questions about your dental health, it's important to ask your dentist. Remember that he or she has your best interest at heart, and would not be referring you out of the practice if it were not necessary. Talk to your dentist about why you're being referred to a specialist, but don't pressure him or her to take on a procedure that they might be uncomfortable or not properly equipped to perform.

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