Well, it happened again this week. We had three patients with a toothache. For many patients and for quite a few dentists, this may mean the need for root canal treatment. However, this is not necessarily true, at all. Evidence-based dentistry and thoroughness in diagnosis and treatment planning often indicates another manner to treat.
There are many things that can contribute to a toothache. Just because you have a toothache does not at all mean that you should assume you need root canal treatment. In fact, I am willing to admit, and I am publishing now which I have never seen from a dental office before, that of all patients receiving dental treatment, not including preventive visits for the hygienist, less than one out of one hundred visits involves root canal treatment in my dental office. There, I have published it. I am very proud of this. To have the impressive incidence of less than 1% of dental treatment visits involving root canal treatment is due to multiple factors.
To be fair, my dental practice is located in north Dallas, where employment is fairly high, where dental insurance coverage is fairly prevalent, where incomes are considerably higher than average, and where people generally take care of their health. Naturally, as a result, I have less dental emergencies. Given this honest information, there are still other ways we drive down the need for root canal therapy.
As an example, there are other factors which may lead to a toothache. These other factors include a sinus infection, a tooth responding to recent dental treatment and needing more time to “calm down”, a temporary crown or newly completed dental work that needs “more of the bite” adjusted, food trapping, sensitive tooth surfaces needing attention short of root canal therapy, grinding and clenching, decay treatable by less than root canal therapy, among other things. Honesty and diligence in the examination can reveal these other factors which may contribute to a toothache.
As another example, my dental practice is owned and operated by me. That makes a big difference. I have a personal investment of money and effort. I have a vested interest to please my patients. I am building and maintaining a business. It makes sense to take care of patients very very well. At least, that is how I am wired. Even when I was a teenager with up to twenty lawns to care for, I worked diligently to offer my customers my best; I never asked for a lawn job, my customers came to me to ask me to do their lawn. Quality and character, I learned, are big determinants in obtaining business.
To build on the subject of dental practice ownership, many dental offices now are owned by retail entities, corporate entities, and even by insurance companies. Many dentists are also influenced heavily by dental insurance companies as they are contracted “preferred providers”. So, many dental offices have pressures from management, from retail and corporate entities, from insurance contracts with considerably lower fees, and from stock holders, to be profitable. These pressures may alter the manner in which treatment is recommended. These influences do not exist in my office.
So clearly, not all toothaches require root canal therapy. Yet, if needed, root canal therapy is very much a viable course of treatment. If you are in need of a dentist and appreciate our approach to kind, careful, and considerate care, we invite you to peruse our website, to peruse our reviews, or to call us at (972) 250-2580. We value your interest.