Do you need an oral surgeon or a dentist?
If your dentist has told you that he or she is referring you to an oral surgeon, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a dental health issue that’s unusual or difficult to treat. It simply means that a professional trained in the specific discipline is better suited to handle your treatment.
Your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Is Highly Trained
You never actually choose between an oral surgeon or dentist. Oral surgeons are dentists, meaning they have gone through the same training and education as a general dentist. After earning a bachelor’s degree, all aspiring dentists attend a four-year dental school.
The only difference? After getting either their Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine, those who want to become oral surgeons must go on to complete a four-to-six-year, hospital-based surgical residency. Afterward, they must pass a board certification exam in order to begin practice in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
The professionals within this dental specialty also are trained extensively in anesthesiology. They are the only other medical professional besides anesthesiologists qualified to administer all types and levels of anesthesia.
By the time oral surgeons open their practices, they have had 12 to 14 years of post-secondary schooling, training and experience — you are in capable hands.
What Can an Oral Surgeon Do?
General dentists focus on regular checkups. Treatments they administer every day most likely include tooth cleanings, X-rays, filling cavities, performing root canals, and putting in crowns and bridges. They may even handle straightforward tooth extractions.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons handle common procedures like wisdom tooth extractions, but they also are trained to treat conditions that go beyond the scope of general dentistry, such as:
- Corrective jaw surgery
- Jaw and sinus cyst removal
- Facial reconstruction
- Cleft palate/cleft lip surgery
- Bone grafting
- Dental implants
- Tumor removal
Whether you need an oral surgeon or dentist depends mainly on the type and extent of dental health issue you’re facing and the professional opinion of your dentist. Your dentist may refer you for treatment or simply consult with the surgeon on the best course of action, such as how to handle sleep apnea or how to best treat an infection.
Find an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Near You
For the most part, you can rely on your dentist’s referral network to locate a quality professional. You will want to make sure that the office accepts your insurance. You also should be sure you feel comfortable with the surgeon before proceeding with treatment.
Call Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today with any questions you may have about whether you need an oral surgeon or dentist.