Oral surgeons and orthodontists perform some similar services, but they often treat different issues. They are alike in that they have both completed four years of dental school and have a solid understanding of dental anatomy, oral health and the use of anesthesia and radiology in diagnosis and treatment. In addition, both are dedicated to helping give patients beautiful, healthy smiles.
However, oral surgeons and orthodontists handle different dental problems. Understanding the differences will help you determine when it makes sense to see each type of specialist.
When to See an Oral Surgeon
Becoming an oral surgeon requires completing a four-year residency in a hospital-based program. Training focuses on the bones, muscles and connective tissues of the face and mouth as well as surgical techniques and procedures to treat facial trauma, congenital defects, bite problems and oral diseases.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the dental specialist to see if you need:
- Erupted or impacted tooth extraction
- Dental implants to replace missing teeth
- Wisdom teeth removal
- Pre-prosthetic surgery
- Bone grafting in the face, mouth or jaw
- Jawbone or facial reconstruction
- Oral cancer screening or surgical treatment
You should also consult with an oral surgeon if you need professional diagnosis and treatment for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
When to See an Orthodontist
To become an orthodontist requires two to three years of specialized training after dental school. Studies focus on techniques to properly align teeth to prevent uneven tooth wear and jaw pain and to improve the ability to talk, bite and chew.
You should consult with an orthodontist if you have:
- Early or late loss of the baby teeth
- Crooked, crowded or protruding teeth
- Gaps between the teeth
- Teeth that don’t meet properly
- An inability to close the mouth
Orthodontists treat these dental problems through the construction and application of braces, retainers, headgear and other orthodontic equipment.
What if You Need Oral Surgery and Orthodontic Work?
Some difficult dental problems — such as treatment for facial trauma, jaw deformity or impacted canines — require the expertise of an orthodontist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
If you need both surgical and orthodontic work, take care in selecting your dental specialists. Treatment could take several months or years to complete, so finding a reputable, highly skilled oral surgeon who has extensive experience working with capable and qualified orthodontists is essential.
In central Indiana, the professional team at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery can provide you with expert care. Our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Garrison and Dr. Kelly, have over 40 years of combined experience managing a wide range of dental issues involving the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
For more information about Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, or to schedule an oral surgeon consultation, contact our Indianapolis, Indiana, office today.