An endodontist works in the branch of dentistry concerned with the morphology (form and structure) and pathology of the human tooth, in particular the dental pulp, root and peri-radicular tissues. It includes the biology of the normal pulp, crown, root and peri-radicular tissues and the investigation or attribution of the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries that affect these tissues.8
How are endodontists trained?
A qualification in dentistry and a postgraduate qualification in endodontics, in addition to a minimum of two years general dental practice experience, are required to gain specialist registration with the DBA as an endodontist. Currently, there are three approved Doctor of Clinical Dentistry in Endodontics programmes in Australia, offered by the University of Adelaide, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Western Australia.9
What is the assessment process for overseas-trained endodontists?
An overseas-trained endodontist must have their specialist qualification assessed as substantially equivalent to an approved qualification for the specialty. The ADC review and make recommendations about overseas-trained endodontist specialist applications to the DBA.
In addition to having their specialist qualification assessed as substantially equivalent, the DBA’s Specialist Registration Standard requires specialist registration applicants to have completed a minimum of two years general dental practice in addition to meeting all other requirements for general registration as a dentist. The general practice requirement may be achieved by experience outside Australia, subject to assessment and approval by the DBA.10
What issues have stakeholders identified for the endodontist workforce?
In regards to workforce supply, it was noted many overseas-trained endodontists who apply for specialist registration are assessed as having qualifications not equivalent to an Australian specialist qualification, or have completed programmes which cannot be assessed for equivalence.
Demand for endodontic services is expected to increase with the ageing of the Australian population and an increased expectation of people keeping their natural teeth. While it is anticipated most of this increased demand could be met by general dentists, demand for endodontists is still expected to increase with more referrals of complex cases.
The existing workforce position was determined from expert opinion from jurisdictions and the profession. A traffic light approach was used (as described in Appendix D). The endodontic existing workforce position was assessed as green in metropolitan areas – that there is no current perceived shortage; and orange in regional areas – some level of expressed demand exceeding available workforce.
Table shows the number and characteristics of employed endodontist specialists in 2011 and 2012. In both years, approximately nine out of ten employed endodontist specialists were clinicians, and approximately one out of five were female. With an average age of 46 years, endotontist specialists are one of the youngest dental specialty workforces.
Table shows the total number of employed dentists (both general dentists and specialists) who reported endodontics as their principal area of main job. The characteristics of these dentists is almost identical to those of the registered endodontist specialists (refer Table 12).
Table : Employed dentists (including specialists): principal area of main job reported as endodontics, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012