General dentists will refer patients to endodontists for a lot of reasons, but implant placement is not likely to be among them, according to a pair of surveys recently published in the Journal of Endodontics.
The first study, published online August 1, found that only 33.8% of general dentists believe endodontists should place implants.
The finding comes against a backdrop of controversy about when implants should be placed, and who is most qualified to place them. As implants have improved, some patients who would once have opted for root canal therapy are now choosing implants instead.
"I think the specialty of endodontics is seriously considering implants," Michelle R. McQuistan, DDS, assistant professor of dentistry at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and coauthor of the study, told Medscape Medical News.
Dr. McQuistan and colleagues mailed a survey to 1500 general dentists, of whom 366 responded.
Dr. McQuistan also was coauthor of an earlier study published July 2009 in the same journal, which found that 57% of endodontists think they should be able to place implants.
"It's really interesting that the majority of endodontists thought that it's OK for endodontists to place implants, but the majority of general dentists did not," she said.
More and more endodontists are getting trained in implant placement, according to an interview the American Association of Endodontists released in response to the August study. At this time, 7% of the association members place implants, and 16% plan to place them in the future, said James C. Kulild, DDS, the president-elect of the American Association of Endodontists, in an interview.
More and more general dentists are doing implant surgery and the concomitant restorations. Although endodontists are receiving more training, so are the general dentists.
And, there are the surgeons and periodontists who have been placing implants since the beginning.
Not an expansive market for endodontists.