Trusting any type of surgical procedure to a doctor you are not familiar with is a decision that should not to be taken lightly.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a formally trained specialist. All dentists, whether they are general or specialists, spend eight years in undergraduate college and dental school earning a DDS or DMD degree. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon spends an additional four to six years of advanced training after dental school, in a hospital-based environment. Following dental school, oral surgeons complete a minimum of four years in hospital-based surgical residency programs, where they train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery, and anesthesiology, while also spending time in emergency medicine, plastic surgery, and otolaryngology. Their training focuses almost exclusively on the bone, skin and muscle of the face, mouth, and jaws. Additionally, some oral surgeons, such as Dr. Matthew Hilmi, obtain a medical degree (MD) in addition to their dental doctorate.
Once in practice, an oral surgeon focuses primarily on performing surgical procedures. These procedures include the following: complicated teeth extractions, dental implant placement, repair of broken bones in the jaws and face, removal of cysts and tumors of the jaws, cosmetic and TMJ surgeries, soft tissue biopsies, jaw realignment surgery to correct bite discrepancies.
Some community-based oral surgeons may choose not to perform the more complicated operations as part of his or her daily practice. However, its more than likely any dental surgery procedure performed occasionally by a general dentist is performed routinely by an oral surgeon; this translates into statistically better patient outcomes. The results of a recent survey published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reveal that dental implant survival and success rates in oral and maxillofacial surgery practices are significantly higher than identical procedures performed by general dental practitioners.
Through extensive surgical training, oral surgeons are also exposed to a wide range of complications that may arise from performing the various dental surgical procedures. While a general dentist may feel comfortable performing a dental surgery procedure on you, the same dentist may not feel comfortable managing complications arising from that procedure. An oral surgeon will always be able to either avoid or manage the complications that arise from a surgery he or she performs.
Licensed dentists can choose to perform any dental procedure with which they are comfortable, whether it is filling a tooth, extracting teeth, dental implant placement, performing a root canal procedure, placement of crowns and bridges, and bone and soft tissue grafting It is hard for general dentists to continue feeling competent with all these procedures, most of which they may have had only limited exposure to in their dental schooling. Reputable dentists will treat only the conditions with which they feel comfortable and will refer you to a specialist for anything more complicated.
In the end, your decision to see an oral surgeon is based partially on the recommendation from your general dentist but also on your confidence in knowing that you are seeing an individual who performs the procedure you need daily. By choosing an oral surgeon, you are choosing to see someone who has undergone rigorous specialty training and has years of experience performing the procedure you need and experience in treating complications that may arise.
CONDITIONS AN ORAL SURGEON SHOULD TREAT
Just as you would not ask your family doctor to perform heart surgery, there are certain procedures that should only be performed by oral surgeons, who have extensive education, training, and surgical expertise.
- Perform complex tooth extractions, including removing impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth.
- Evaluate, plan a course of treatment and place dental implants to replace one or more teeth.
- Surgically reconstruct inadequate bone structure in the jaw area.
- Treat accident victims who suffer head or neck trauma along with injuries to the face, jaws, mouth and/or teeth.
- Treat patients with tumors and cysts of the jaws.
- Diagnose and treat oral cancer and other diseases in the maxillofacial region.
- Perform facial cosmetic surgery procedures to enhance facial appearance.
- Diagnose and treat facial pain due to conditions such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder).
- Diagnose and surgically treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have (845)340-1962.