Exactly What Do Oral Surgeons Do?

Like any medical field, some of the language and titles relating to dentistry can be mystifying. That’s especially true considering the large number of specializations in dentistry. One way to clear up some of the mystery, misconceptions and anxiety around dentistry is to be transparent about each specialist’s role and function. Take oral and maxillofacial surgeons, for example. “Oral” and “surgeon” seem clear enough, but just what do oral surgeons do? Here are answers to some common questions about oral surgeons and oral surgery.

What is an oral surgeon?

First things first. Oral surgeons are dentists who receive the same basic training as every other dentist near you. In addition to that basic training, though, they receive specialized training and education to perform surgical procedures on the mouth, jaw, teeth and face. While many family and general dentists also perform surgeries, complex surgeries relating to implants and wisdom teeth extractions are usually performed by oral surgeons.

How do you become an oral surgeon?

First, you need to complete the Doctor of Dental Medicine program at, for example, the University of British Columbia. At that point, though, you’ll just be beginning. Oral surgeons take an additional four to six years of surgical training before pursuing additional fellowships or education in subspecialties such as cranio-maxillofacial trauma, craniofacial surgery, pediatric maxillofacial surgery and cosmetic facial surgery.

What types of procedures do oral surgeons perform?

Oral surgery in Maple Ridge includes procedures as various as surgeon’s patients are numerous. Examples include:

  • Implant procedures
  • Wisdom teeth and other extractions
  • Treating accident victims with facial injuries
  • Removing or treating cysts and tumours in the jaw
  • Soft tissue biopsies
  • Jaw realignment surgery to treat extreme cases of temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Soft tissue repairs
  • Facial reconstructive surgery
  • Bone grafting
  • Treating the results of birth defects

All oral and maxillofacial surgeons receive specialized training in performing surgery in the most comfortable manner possible, including training in sedation dentistry using local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia.

Do you need a referral to an oral surgeon?

In the past, patients were consistently referred to oral surgeons by their family or general dentist, though it is no longer always necessary. One benefit of obtaining a referral rather than walking-in to an oral surgeon is that the background preparatory work and investigations will have been completed. One important thing to keep in mind about consulting with an oral surgeon — or any specialist — is that some insurance companies require a referral to that specialist before they will cover the costs of the specialist’s treatment.

What does “maxillofacial” mean, anyway?

The word “maxillofacial” simply means “relating to the jaws and face.” A maxillofacial surgeon, then, is a surgeon trained specifically to treat injuries to and perform surgeries on a patient’s head, neck, mouth and jaw.

If you’re uncertain about whether you need to see a specialist, the best option is to arrange an appointment with a general or family dentist in Maple Ridge who will take a complete medical history, review the condition of your teeth and gums and jaw, and determine the most pressing dental or health issues you are confronting. With that information in hand, the dentist will refer you to the most appropriate specialist — whether an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or otherwise.

If you’d prefer to find a specialist yourself, a good starting point for finding a clinic and dentist that specializes in oral surgery near you is to visit the website of the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

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