Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are dentists who pursue rigorous additional surgical specialty training of four or six years after completion of dental school. After residency, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons can pursue becoming board-certified in the specialty (Diplomates of the American Board or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery). This requires passing rigorous written and oral examinations.
What Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Do
The scope of practice of the oral and maxillofacial surgery specialty is quite broad, and the surgeons perform procedures in the office setting as well as in hospitals and/or ambulatory surgery centers. Surgical extractions of impacted teeth (usually wisdom teeth) and dental implants are among the most frequently performed procedures and common reasons for referrals. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are experts in the correction of growth abnormalities of the jaws and facial bones and perform orthognathic surgery to correct patients' function, restore facial harmony, and treat obstructive sleep apnea. They also perform complex reconstruction of bone and soft-tissue deficits that result from tooth loss, trauma, birth defects or tumor removal. They remove cysts and tumors – benign and malignant – from the mouth, face, and salivary glands. In addition, they treat infections of the mouth, face, and neck and perform surgeries to correct conditions of the temporomandibular joint. They are experts in treating fractures of the jaws and facial bones as well as repairing lacerations of the face and neck. For these reasons, they are essential members of the facial trauma team at community hospitals, trauma hospitals, and academic medical centers.
With extensive training in anesthesia, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are experts in providing general anesthesia/deep sedation, moderate IV sedation, minimal sedation, and local anesthesia in the office.
Many Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons earn their medical degree during their specialty training. Some pursue additional fellowship (post-residency) training to further their knowledge and skills in a particular area of interest, such as head and neck cancer removal and reconstruction, cleft lip and palate/craniofacial surgery, or cosmetic surgery. Diplomates maintain their board certification with continuous education and ongoing certification maintenance program through the American Board or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
For more information, visit:
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons for patients: MyOMS.org.
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: AAOMS.org.
American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: ABOMS.org.