The question of referral – Tim Bradstock-Smith

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  Posted by: Dental Design      10th January 2018

Endodontic procedures are risky and a miscalculation can prove costly in terms of a poor outcome for the patient and the potential for a claim or complaint. But by working alongside a specialist endodontist, cases can be treated quickly and effectively, benefiting everyone involved.

Endodontists become specialists by completing two or more years of advanced training following dental school. They perform routine as well as difficult and very complex endodontic procedures, including root canal treatment, endodontic surgery and special procedures to save teeth after traumatic dental injuries. By focusing on specific areas such as root canal treatment, surgery and trauma, endodontists are experts at managing a wide array of complex endodontic problems efficiently. They also have advanced technologies at their disposal, and along with specialised techniques, they can gain a very accurate view of the inside of the tooth, which allows them to treat cases quickly and comfortably.[1]

Endodontists are also experienced at finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnose and can work with referring dentists to ensure patients get the correct care. By saving the tooth, a specialist can help to maintain the patient’s natural smile, so they can remain functional and maintain their overall health.1

But referring is not always simple, as many patients are often unprepared to pay more for specialist endodontic work. This puts pressure on GDPs to undertake the procedures themselves which can often lead to inadequate results. Mid-treatment referrals, particularly aborted attempts, should be avoided wherever foreseeable following preoperative assessment. This is because they are frequently associated with complications, often making the procedure much more difficult and unpredictable for the endodontist. Furthermore, a patient who experiences problems after not having been referred in time may also lose his or her confidence in the GDP. To avoid mid-treatment referrals, the GDP should carefully select between cases that they can undertake and those they should refer to an endodontist. Immediate referral also benefits the patient, as it helps to reduce additional costs in the long run.[2]

It is important for the referring GDP to assure the patient of their upmost confidence in the endodontist. Developing a strong relationship with an endodontist will help to ensure the process is seamless and allow the GDP to work in partnership with the specialist to deliver quality dental care. Certain aspects need to be taken into account when deciding where to refer cases, including location, patient management, waiting time and ultimately the quality of care. The London Smile Clinic is an award winning referral dental centre that offers outstanding endodontic treatment. The latest technology and techniques are employed by the team of expert specialists, allowing them to deal effectively with the most difficult cases. What’s more, you can be confident that you will be kept informed during every stage of the process until your patient is safely returned for continuing care.

Endodontic treatment can have a success rate of up to 90%.[3] By referring out complicated endodontic work, both the GDP and specialist can work together to provide patients with exceptional care and fantastic outcomes.


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[1] Sigurdsson, A. (2010). Trauma & nerve damage to teeth. Dear Doctor. Available online: [Accessed 9th February 2016].

[2] Broome, J. L. (2016). Main non-clinical factors influencing endodontic referral. Primary Dental Journal, 5 (3), 64-68.

[3] British Endodontic Society. Further information. Available online: [Accessed 8th February 2017].

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