Oral Surgeon vs. Dentist?

What Does It Take To Be An Oral Surgeon?

It’s time to go back to basics. Sometimes we forget what our doctors and care providers went through to become highly trained professionals. While we see them as the caring individuals who “magically” know about our problems and how to fix them, we don’t know all that went into making them specialists. Let’s learn about oral surgeons and what it takes to become one. After understanding the nature of the specialty, it’s helpful to review the kinds of problems treated by an oral surgeon.

Oral surgeons, also known as maxillofacial surgeons, are true surgical specialists in the general field of dentistry. They are not general dentists, and this is sometimes confusing as some dentists will extract teeth–this does not make them an oral surgeon. After completing four (4) years of dental school, oral surgeons must undergo a demanding hospital-based maxillofacial residency, lasting a minimum of four (4) years. During this intense training period, these experts learn how to operate on the mouths and jaws of patients, and often work in collaboration with other dentists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and orthodontists.

While oral surgeons no doubt enjoy being in the operating room, their responsibilities include consulting with patients, developing treatment plans, overseeing post-operative activity, and coordinating care with other professionals. Clinicians like Dr. McGann take it to the next level by writing scientific papers about topics and special techniques in oral surgery, allowing others to read about and learn from his experience. In short, becoming and being an oral surgeon is more than a full-time job…it’s a true passion!

What Are Three Common Conditions Treated By Oral Surgeons?

  1. Tooth Replacement – Oral surgeons are highly skilled in the placement of dental implants, replacement teeth that look, feel, and function much like the real ones. These implants are often needed when a tooth or several teeth are lost due to disease or trauma. Because implants need to be surgically anchored to the underlying jawbone, oral surgeons are experts in routine and complicated dental implants.
  2. Tooth Removal – Unfortunately, it is oftentimes necessary to remove teeth that have become trapped between the jawbone and gum tissue. These trapped teeth are known as impacted teeth. The most common example of teeth that may become impacted are wisdom teeth. Regardless of cause, impacted teeth can cause complications and therefore they must be removed. An oral surgeon’s training allows them to make an informed judgment on whether a tooth needs to come out and, if so, the safest and most effective way to perform the extraction.
  3. Jaw Surgery – There are many disorders of the jaw that require surgical repair including unequal bone growth, problems with the temperomandibular joint (TMJ), and repair after traumatic injury. In addition to the above, many patients are simply dissatisfied with their patient profile and don’t fully realize how much their jaw plays a role in the facial profile. Oral surgeons like Dr. McGann, who specialize in jaw surgery, are the “go-to” for surgical disorders of the jaw.

To read more, visit the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website at: http://www.aaoms.org/theoms.php

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