Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a unique branch of dentistry that deals with the correction and reconstruction of defects associated with the head, neck, jaws, and face. Typically, oral maxillofacial surgeons are trained dental professionals who deal with the hard and soft tissue problems of the head and neck region.
Oral surgeons undergo additional training for four to six years after dental school to specialize in performing major surgical procedures of the head and neck.
Additionally, oral surgeons also focus on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases that may affect the gums, teeth, jaw, and mouth such as facial injuries, knocked out tooth, jaw fracture, tooth impactions, pericoronitis, and oral cancer.
Today’s article will highlight the duties of an oral surgeon. Furthermore, we will discuss the procedures performed by an oral surgeon.
Who is an oral maxillofacial surgeon?
Oral maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries, and issues associated with the head, neck, face, jaws, and hard or soft tissues of the mouth.
Oral maxillofacial surgeons typically undergo additional education and training after finishing dental school. Usually, this duration lasts from four to six years to master surgical skills. Additionally, oral surgeons also get thorough training in administering anesthesia and providing all types of sedative treatments. (1)
Most oral surgeons are also equipped to treat emergency dental cases such as facial or oral injury to the tooth, jaw, or soft tissue. Nerve damage and tooth extractions are also dealt with by oral surgeons. Moreover, oral surgeons work towards restoring the aesthetics of a person.
When should you visit an oral surgeon?
Usually, a dentist might refer you to an oral surgeon when they notice the following signs and symptoms –
- Misaligned jaw
- Facial pain
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Wisdom tooth impactions
- Nerve injury
- Cleft lip and palate
- Suspected cyst or tumor of the jaw
- Obstructive sleep apnea
What should you expect during the first visit to an oral surgeon?
Usually, during the first visit, the oral surgeon will take a complete medical and dental history of the patient. He would determine the current health status of the patient. Moreover, an oral surgeon needs to know about any medications that the patient may e taking for diabetes, a heart condition, or any other systemic illness.
After taking the history, the oral surgeon will perform a detailed clinical examination to assess the patient’s problems and concerns. Additionally, he might take 3D radiographs to study bone disorders or malformations. (2)
After a thorough analysis and assessment, the oral surgeon comes up with a comprehensive treatment plan to manage the condition and maintain the patient’s aesthetics.
What procedures are performed by an oral surgeon?
Some of the standard procedures performed by an oral surgeon include –
Correction of developmental conditions
Cleft lip and palate is one unique developmental condition that is effectively treated by oral surgeons. It is usually performed in infants to improve the ability to suckle or drink from the bottle. Moreover, it helps to improve the speech of the child.
Treatment of cancerous lesions
Oral surgeons have the knowledge and skills in diagnosing cancerous lesions of the mouth, face, and jaw. Moreover, they provide palliative therapies to treat such sensitive conditions. Additionally, the oral surgeon also performs reconstructive surgeries in extensive damage caused by a cancerous lesion. (3)
Oral surgeons are well trained in placement maintenance and repair or dental implants. Implants are titanium screws that are integrated into the jaw bone followed by a dental crown, bridge, or even overdenture. (4)
Treatment of traumatic injury to the face
The oral surgeon also focusses on repairing defects that may interfere with the aesthetics of the face, such as ey or ace lacerations. Moreover, they also repair complex facial fractures and nerve injuries.
Oral surgeons perform orthognathic surgeries to correct the major and minor dental or skeletal irregularities or abnormalities. Some of these conditions include misalignment of the jaw and teeth, which may affect the patient’s speech, breathing, and chewing habits. (5)
Additionally, such procedures help to enhance the facial appearance of the patient.
Management of pain
An oral surgeon is educated and trained in understanding the causes of temporomandibular joint pain and facial pain. They can identify and treat such conditions effectively through supportive therapy and medications.
Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs during the night when the patient is asleep. It stops the breathing of the patient repeatedly. An oral surgeon assesses the partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway.
Moreover, oral surgeon plan treatments to remove the excess tissue that may be blocking the pathway.
Tooth extractions, especially wisdom tooth removal, is performed by an oral surgeon. They use specialized tools and instruments to remove the tooth under anesthesia gently. Some of the conditions that may require tooth extraction by an oral surgeon include –
- Tooth impactions
- Grossly decayed and damaged tooth (6)
- Primary tooth retention
- Orthodontic tooth removal
FAQs for an oral surgeon
How much do oral surgeons make?
The annual salary of an oral surgeon working in a hospital usually ranges between $200000 or more. Additionally, if an oral surgeon works in the outpatient clinic, the salary may go between $ 85000 to $ 120000 per annum. However, some factors that may determine the rise in salary of an oral surgeon include –
- The type of clinical setup either a hospital or a dental office
- The years of experience of the specialist
- The location of the clinic
- The number of patients treated each day
Who is a pediatric oral surgeon?
A pediatric oral surgeon deals with extensive dental cases of kids such as tooth extraction, reconstruction of jaws during trauma, treatment of developmental dental disabilities such as cleft lip and palate. Moreover, they look after the well-being, proper skeletal, and dental development of the children.
Pediatric dentists are specialists that utilize 3D radiographic techniques and tools to diagnose and treat the children. Moreover, they also look after behavior management.
What is an oral surgeon?
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists that undergo four years of additional education after dental school. Additionally, they spend another four years in a hospital-based residency program to practice dental surgery.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons primarily focus on treating problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaws. Most of the oral surgeons work in a hospital. However, some may also run their private dental office. Some of the treatments performed by oral surgeons include –
- Tooth extraction
- Corrective jaw surgery
Oral surgeon wisdom teeth removal
- The oral surgeon gives an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area before removing the wisdom teeth. The surgeon may also provide a sedative to help relax an anxious patient.
- Usually, for impacted teeth, a small cut is made in the gum to access it. The bone is also cut to visualize the tooth.
- The tooth is then cut into smaller parts to make it easier to remove through the opening.
- Some pressure is applied just before the tooth is removed to loosen the tooth.
It usually takes a few minutes to remove the tooth, but it can take longer than 20 minutes if it’s more complicated.
- After tooth extraction, dissolving stitches are used to seal the gum. It usually takes 7 to 10 days for stitches to dissolve completely.
- The surgeon will place gauze over the site of the extraction and ask you to apply pressure on it by biting your jaws. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an ongoing infection.
Take away message
An oral surgeon is trained dental professionals who undergo extensive education for four to six years after graduating from dental school. During this time, they are trained in anesthesia administration, performing oral surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, and much more.
In other words, oral surgeons focus on the diagnosis and treatment of any traumatic injury or disease associated with the head, neck jaw, and face. Some procedures performed by oral surgeons include corrective jaw surgery, extraction of an impacted tooth, removal of a cyst, and jaw tumor tumors.
It is essential to look for the signs and symptoms of diseases that may require routine check-ups from an oral surgeon. Talk to your dentist to get more information on the different dental situations that can be treated by an oral surgeon.