How do you decide when it is time to refer a patient to a dental specialist? This is a good question and it is often asked in one form or another when I suggest another dentist more specialized than me to complete a patient’s treatment.
Although I am an experienced and consider myself extremely knowledgeable and competent dentist, no general dentist can match the quality that a specialist can offer in all typed of procedures. I for example, do not offer to remove most wisdom teeth , but instead refer patients seeking these types of extractions to an oral surgeon.
Another reason that a referral is made is for a second opinion whose opinion I value. A good Dental specialist has a wealth of experience in his dental niche that I cannot match. If the cause of a particular dental condition is not completely obvious, than a referral to a dental specialist can be a good idea.
I also tend to refer patients to specialists when I feel that a positive outcome is not assured to high degree of certainty. If a patient desires a particular treatment in which success may not be assured, then it may be best if a specialist with additional training is the one to perform this procedure. If the treatment is not a success at least my patient and I will know that the most qualified dentist performed the procedure.
Most of the specialists I refer to are experts in their specialties whom I am extremely comfortable with and in my experience seem to have a very high percentage of positive dental outcomes and few complaints from returning patients.