An oral surgeon, also referred to as an oral-maxillofacial surgeon, is a dental professional who specializes in performing surgical and non-surgical procedures on the mouth, face, and neck. These procedures may include oral surgery, reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic dentistry.
After graduating from dental school, an oral surgeon must complete four to seven years of medical training before treating patients.
Some oral surgeons have their own practice while others work onsite. Certain dental offices are equipped for sedation and surgery, which allows patients to be treated in a comfortable and familiar environment.
What procedures does an oral surgeon perform?
An oral surgeon performs a range of surgical and non-surgical procedures on the mouth, face, and neck.
Common procedures include the surgical removal of abscessed teeth as well as the placement of dental implants to replace broken or missing teeth. A dental implant looks like a real tooth and, unlike a denture or bridge, is permanently screwed into the jawbone or gum.
An oral surgeon also corrects facial birth defects, including cleft lip or cleft palate, and is skilled in emergency reconstructive surgery, such as repairing broken or shattered jaw and cheekbones after a car accident.
Oral surgeons work with other medical professionals to treat oral cancer and other diseases of the mouth, and they also perform surgical procedures to help treat sleep apnea.
They also perform a range of elective cosmetic procedures, including eye lifts, cheek implants, and Botox injections.
When would I need to see an oral surgeon?
Seeing an oral surgeon usually begins with a visit to your general dentist. A general dentist typically refers a patient to an oral surgeon for conditions that require attention beyond the scope of general dentistry. This could include an abscessed tooth that needs extraction, a missing tooth that requires a dental implant, or symptoms of oral cancer that requires surgical treatment.
For most oral surgery procedures, patients are given IV sedation under the close watch of the oral surgeon and several specially trained oral surgery assistants.
Before any treatment begins, your oral surgeon will want to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery as well as general anesthesia. For this reason, it is important to disclose your full medical history to your oral surgeon especially chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease. Also tell your oral surgeon about any prescription medication and vitamin or mineral supplements you are taking.
A good oral surgeon will fully explain each procedure in terms you can understand so you know what to expect. However, never hesitate to ask your oral surgeon any questions you may have so you are confident in your treatment plan.
Your general dentist will typically refer you to an oral surgeon. At SmileGeneration.com, you can find a list of qualified oral surgeons in your area, view staff bios, read patient reviews, and request your appointment online in minutes.