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Oral Surgeon


The oral surgeon, actually referred to as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is recognized as one of the nine specialties by the American Dental Association (ADA). Oral surgeons correct a large variety of diseases, injuries, and defects in the head, face, neck and jaw, plus the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. Oral surgeons have to attend and complete four years of dental school and a minimum of four years in a hospital-based oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program.

Some of the things they are specially trained on include:

  • Dental implants
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders
  • Various types of facial pain
  • Perform restorative surgical procedures like bone grafting, sinus lifts, and fixing broken jaw bones
  • Anesthesia

Oral surgeons oftentimes work side by side with other dental specialists, including prosthodontists who develop orthotics and prosthetic appliances to treat functional issues. When oral surgeries involve the face, cosmetic dentists are usually consulted, and/or are apart of the dental team through all stages of the treatment plan. Oral surgeons also work together with orthodontists when correcting a patient’s bite, as the orthodontist is trained in treating improper bites and the oral surgeon is trained to reconstruct and realign upper and low jaw bones.

Oral Surgery Treatment

Your oral surgeon is trained and skilled to perform all sorts of surgical procedures, including:

Removing wisdom teeth - One of the most common reasons why oral surgeons are sought after is to remove wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth do not always grow in correctly. Most times, they are either impacted or partially impacted. Other times the jaw doesn’t grow large enough to accommodate the growth of wisdom teeth making it difficult for the teeth to erupt at all.

Placing dental implants - Oral surgeons are trained to reconstruct bone in areas that will have an implant placement. They are also skilled in modifying gum tissue around dental implants to improve the appearance of the teeth.

Administering anesthesia - Oral surgeons are educated and trained in administering intravenous (IV) sedation and general anesthesia. They usually administer it to remove impacted or damaged teeth while the patient is in-office.

Alleviate facial pain - Facial pain disorders, such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems can be diagnosed and treated by an oral surgeon. He or she can also order imaging studies of the joints and refer you to the appropriate specialists (dental, medical, etc.)

Treat facial trauma - Oral surgeons are trained to deal with facial trauma that ranges from minor to complex. They are trained to treat skin lacerations, set fractured facial bones, reconnect severed nerves, and treat other facial injuries such as in the cheeks and eye sockets.

Evaluate pathologic conditions – Oral surgeons treat patients who have severe infections within the oral cavity, salivary glands, neck and jaws. Plus, they treat patients with benign cysts and tumors of the face and mouth.

Corrective jaw surgery - Oral surgeons are trained to correct minor and major skeletal and dental jaw deformities to improve their patient’s chewing, breathing and speaking habits. They reconstruct and realign both upper and lower jaws, as well as improve biting functions and facial appearance.

Reconstructive surgery - Oral surgeons are skilled in correcting jaw, facial bone and facial soft tissue problems. The surgeries restore form and function to the maxillofacial area, and they usually pull skin, bone, nerves and other tissues from separate parts of the body to complete their work.

Treating sleep apnea - Oral surgeons that suspect sleep apnea in a patient will send them to a sleep clinic for an overnight stay and a polysomnography (a test that monitors your sleep patterns). Your dentist will then be able to come up with a treatment plan based if the results are mild, moderate or severe.

Oral surgeons should be apart of your dental team, even if you are not in need of them at the moment. Oral surgeons are usually called upon by other medical and dental specialists to assist or consult with on various situations ranging from car accident trauma patients to rare bone diseases within the jaw or maxillofacial region.

Page updated February 2011



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