While all dentists are trained in endodontics, that training varies greatly, as does the clinical experience of each dentist. To ensure that patients receive the best possible care from all practitioners at the highest standards, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) has published its Endodontic Competency White Paper to identify the knowledge and skills that should provide a standard for all practitioners as well as encourage general dentists to seek additional training, recognize their limitations, and consult with specialists as necessary.
“The AAE recognizes that there are great variations in endodontic training, as well as the knowledge, competence, experience, and performance of endodontics among private practicing dentists,” said AAE president Garry L. Meyers. “As such, the AAE developed this comprehensive document outlining the minimum standards any dentist, regardless of years of experience, should meet when providing endodontic care.”
The white paper focuses on 3 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 referrals, 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 clinicians to be able to forecast the outcome of initial nonsurgical root canal treatment.
The AAE developed these guidelines 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 pre-doctoral 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 interest, especially the patient’s, to do so.”