Oral surgery in dentistry is specific to conditions of the teeth and mouth. It encompasses procedures like cleft palate repairs and jaw reconstructions, which are performed by specialists called maxillofacial surgeons, as well as basic dental procedures like implants and tooth extractions. Dentistry and Maxillofacial surgery are two different specialties.
Congenital problems and injuries pertaining to the teeth and mouth are the two primary reasons for major oral surgery such as a jaw reconstruction. For the kind of oral surgery performed in a dentist’s office, the most likely reasons are severe decay or damage to the teeth. For example, a dentist can easily extract one or two teeth in the office, and dental implants are also chair-side procedures. A full mouth extraction is more likely to be performed in an outpatient surgery center, as a general anesthetic is needed.
Dentists and maxillofacial (oral) surgeons begin their training in dental school. After completing dental school, a dentist is ready to practice, but the oral surgeon goes on for four-year residency training. An oral surgery residency includes training in plastic surgery, emergency medicine and otolaryngology (the medical specialty of the ears, nose, and throat).
Oral surgeons handle more complex procedures that are out of the scope of practice for a dentist. They repair damage to the mouth and teeth (such as trauma from an accident). An oral surgeon can extract teeth, reconstruct or repair bone in the jaw, treat obstructive sleep apnea or repair a cleft palate. Oral surgeons are certified to provide sedation and anesthesia for dental procedures.
Compassion, good communication skills, and the ability to build great rapport with patients are important traits to look for. Oral surgeons must be certified by American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In addition, the doctor should keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the field, continuing education courses, and seminars. When selecting an oral surgeon, experience, and technical skill counts.
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