You generally meet an oral and maxillofacial surgeon under difficult circumstances. You may have suffered a serious traumatic injury to your face. Maybe some teeth were knocked out, or your nose was broken. A disease process may require the extraction of some teeth, or you may need a procedure to correct a congenital problem such as a cleft palate.
You can rest assured that the oral and maxillofacial surgeon has received rigorous training not only in the repair of your facial problem but in providing you the sedation or anesthesia you need to make it through whatever procedure is required.
What is Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?
According to the American Dental Association, “Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.”
This means that an oral and maxillofacial surgeon fixes any problems with facial structures involving the mouth, jaws, teeth, cheeks, and noses. Basically, any issue involving your face that needs repair will be repaired by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS).
What Types of Procedures do Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Perform?
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is often called in the event of an emergency when there has been a traumatic injury to the head and face. These surgeons are trained in providing anesthesia and deep sedation which may be required for some difficult and potentially painful procedures.
Some areas for which the skills of an OMS are required include, but are not limited to the following:
Reconstructive surgery due to illness. A person may have a cyst or tumor. The tumor may even be cancerous which must be removed and may require reconstruction of the jaw.
Replacement or removal of teeth. The side effect of some medication causes the structure of the teeth to weaken so they need to be replaced. Wisdom teeth often need removal. The extraction of impacted teeth is often required as is the removal of teeth for which there is no restorative hope. Dental implants after removal of teeth are also in the purview of an OMS.
Repair of trauma to the face. A car accident is a frequent cause of trauma to the face that needs repair by an OMS. Falls or being hit in the face can cause enough facial damage to require the services of an OMS.
Reconstructive surgery for other conditions. An OMS corrects congenital craniofacial malformations such as a cleft palate or cleft lip. This treatment is considered medically necessary and is not cosmetic surgery. The same is true of surgery to correct a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problem where surgery is required to restructure the hinge of the jaw which is causing the person pain.
Cosmetic surgery. This may be to change the structure of the jawline. Cosmetic surgery is also performed on any area of the face, jaws, or neck.
How Does a Person Become an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?
It is not easy to become an OMS. The first step is to complete college. Then, on to dental school, which is another four years following college to obtain the training needed in order to diagnose and treat basic mouth and tooth problems.
The next step is to enter specialty training. This is a highly competitive field and not every dentist who wants to become an OMS is accepted into the program for advanced training. The specialty doctoral program takes between four and six years after the dentist completes dental school depending on the specialty the specific dentist plans on entering.
This specialty is one that “bridges the gap” between dentistry and medicine. There are some medical doctors who become oral and maxillofacial surgeons and some dentists obtain their medical degrees after they complete their OMS training. It often only takes about two years after OMS training for the dentist to complete medical school.
How Does an Appointment with an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Work?
Many oral and facial problems require emergency attention, often due to trauma. Other times, a severe toothache creates an emergency. The patient is likely feeling stressed and may even need emergency surgery. An OMS is generally on call at a hospital and will come and take care of the injury.
An appointment with an OMS can be made for treatment for other non-emergency problems, such as the removal of impacted wisdom teeth, dental implants, surgical repair of a TMJ or cleft palate.
At Riverbend Oral Surgery, we offer a complimentary consultation. This appointment can often take place on the same day you first call us. We discuss with you your needs and together, we make a treatment plan just for you. You can reach us online or by calling (704) 234-7774.