The GDC currently recognises 13 various fields of dentistry with regards to their specialist register. You are not required to join a specialist list to practise a specialty, however, only dentists on these specialist lists have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title. In this series of articles you can find out more about each specialty from experts in their respective fields, with advice on the career pathway as well as sharing their experiences as a specialist.
Endodontics involves the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the tooth root, dental pulp, and surrounding tissue.
In the following article, Bob Philpott, Consultant in Endodontics, discusses how you can establish a career in Endodontics.
Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Endodontics
Edinburgh Dental Institute
I qualified from University College Cork in 2003 and spent 18 months in general practice in South London. Following this, I completed my SHO year in Cardiff. I enrolled on a three-year specialist training pathway in endodontology at the Eastman Dental Hospital in London in 2009. Since then, I have worked as a specialist endodontist in the UK, Ireland and Australia.
I was appointed as a Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant at the Edinburgh Dental Institute (EDI) in 2014 after spending 6 months in a locum post in Glasgow Dental Hospital. I currently divide my time between the EDI and Edinburgh Dental Specialists.
According to Wikipedia, Endodontics (from the Greek roots endo- “inside” and odont- “tooth”) is the dental specialty concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp. Many people consider endodontics to be ‘root canal treatment’ but it encompasses much more than that, including pain diagnosis, vital therapies of the pulp right up to restorative rehabilitation of the endodontically treated tooth. Many of the postgraduate schools in the US now have their endo postgraduate students placing implants too!
A career in endodontics can take many different paths depending on the emphasis you choose to put on certain aspects of your career. In simple terms, a good mix would involve some teaching along with clinical work. Endodontics is a very technical discipline and moves pretty quickly in new directions so clinical practice is an essential component.
I am in an academic/NHS post 4 days a week and work in specialist practice in Edinburgh the 5th day. I think the mix works really well and love both jobs.
Probably the main advantage is that good results can often be achieved relatively quickly and patients’ appreciation of that is always rewarding. There’s loads of gadgetry too, so if you like that kind of thing……The opportunities to teach are vast as well.
I don’t see too many disadvantages as I’m a true ‘Endo-Geek’ but possibly the fact that, as a young newly qualified practitioner that you need to work in multiple practices as you build your reputation and skill as opposed to being at one location.
Choosing any of the specialties makes for a different practice experience in that there’s more time to achieve certain results and more scope for teaching too. Why endo? Because there’s nothing better than a real tooth, even an implant!
People who like structure and pretty quick results.
Good question. To be honest, it was because I always found myself waiting by the x-ray developer for the final PA with my heart beating a little quicker wondering what the final result would look like! I found that didn’t happen with the other disciplines.
Difficult question. It’s probably the fact that I really enjoy my job. Starting out in dentistry, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so to end up in 2 posts that are varied and enjoyable has worked out really well for me.
Probably doing some of the endodontic treatment as part of an oncology case.
Probably not. I trained in London and got to live there for 7 years and loved it and I have worked in a few different countries too. Interestingly, although endo requires patience, I find that I lack that outside of work so I always wish I could do things more quickly!
Prepare the root canal sequentially in a crown-down fashion.
Probably the apex locator.
The head of Endodontology at the Eastman Dental Hospital Kish Gulabivala. I trained there and while he pushed us unbelievably hard, it was an amazing education. Associate Professor Phillippe Zimet in Melbourne was a huge inspiration too.
You are not required to join a specialist list to practise endodontics, however, only dentists registered on the GDC held specialist list have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title in the UK.
To be granted entry to the list an applicant must have been awarded a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) as a result of completing a GDC approved training programme, with a dedicated national training number (NTN).
Applicants need an undergraduate dental qualification (i.e. BDS, or equivalent from a recognised institution) and have a minimum of two years experience post-qualification. Having some experience in general practice is essential I feel to give you an understanding of dentistry in general. MFDS helps and a hospital post also looks good on the CV. I spent a year as an SHO in Cardiff prior to starting in London.
It is strongly recommended to check the essential and desirable criteria listed in the person specification provided for specific specialty training posts (StR). An exemplar person specification can be found in the ‘Further Information’ section at the bottom of the page.
To stand out from the other applicants, it would be good to:
The standard pathway for specialist training in endodontology involves the following:
After completion, the choice of what you want to do is yours. I spent 4 years in private practice in Ireland, the UK and Australia prior to taking up a consultant post in Glasgow and then Edinburgh.
I self-funded my training and although there are some StR posts in endo, they’re pretty rare. Paying for the training is worth it if you receive a good education and you leave ready to go into practice/academia. You learn so much technically during those first few years post-qualification but the foundation you receive from the programme is key
You don’t have to do specialist training which is often either a 3 year full-time or 4 year part-time course. There are options to do a 1 year MSc or a 2 year MClinDent as well but that often doesn’t qualify you for specialist registration with the GDC.