All dentists are trained in endodontics, but that training varies greatly, as does the clinical experience of each dentist. To help ensure that patients receive the best possible care from all practitioners at the highest standards, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) has developed the Endodontic Competency White Paper to identify the knowledge and skill that should provide a standard for all practitioners who diagnose, develop a treatment plan, and perform endodontic procedures.
This single standard emphasizes endodontic competency and encourages general dentists to undergo additional training, recognize their limitations, and consult with specialists on treatment planning and referral.
“The AAE recognizes that there are great variations in endodontic educational experiences among all dentists. Despite these variations, it is essential that the knowledge base, competence, and clinical performance of endodontic procedure by all practicing dentists meet a certain standard of care,” said AAE president Garry L. Myers, DDS.
“As such, the AAE has developed this comprehensive document outlining the minimum standards any dentist should meet, regardless of education or years of experience, when providing endodontic care to their patients,” Myers said.
Practitioners are encouraged to use the white paper as a reference with endodontic cases. Also, the AAE urges educators to consider its competencies and intents when developing predoctoral curricula. The white paper focuses on three key areas critical to competent endodontic treatment: diagnosis, treatment planning, and prognosis:
- Diagnostic standards include the dentist’s ability to assimilate the necessary subjective, objective, and radiographic information to establish a pulpal and/or periapical diagnosis, provide appropriate emergency care and referral, and maintain proper patient records and documentation.
- Treatment planning standards include case assessment to evaluate the difficulty of treatment and consideration of referral, development of a treatment plan that takes into account the restorability of the tooth, and special consideration for traumatic dental injuries.
- Competency in the prognosis of endodontic treatment requires that clinicians be able to forecast the outcome of initial nonsurgical root treatment.
These guidelines were developed to assist educational institutions and organized dentistry in developing minimum educational requirements and skill requisites needed to perform endodontic treatment. The AAE’s goal is a consistent endodontic curriculum that provides predoctoral students with a firmer foundation in the specialty, including a better understanding of the biologic basis of endodontic disease, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prognosis, as well as today’s state of the art techniques and technologies.
“All clinicians must keep current with advances that are generally accepted and embraced by the endodontic specialty,” said Myers. “Endodontic best practices change with time, and it is the responsibility of practitioners to be aware of such changes for those procedures they perform. The general dentist must perform endodontic care at the same level as the specialist, and it’s in everyone’s best interests, especially the patient’s, to do so.”