What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?

Oral surgeons come in for complex dental treatments.

Has your regular dentist referred you to an oral surgeon, or mentioned that an oral surgeon would be called in for an upcoming procedure? Are you picturing an elaborate hospital operating room set up, something like the medical dramas on TV? Rest assured, it’s highly likely that your upcoming procedure will be drama-free and actually a bit boring compared to your imagination.

While family dentists are often highly trained and experienced in procedures such as dental implants and extractions, there are times that it’s necessary to call on the skills of an oral surgeon. Their additional four years of dental school (compared to a family dentist) train them for complex dental extractions or procedures, and cases that require deeper states of sedation. Although a procedure may be complicated, it is usually still performed in the comfort of a regular dental office.

Other procedures requiring an oral surgeon may take place in a hospital or outpatient setting. These may include corrective jaw surgery to fix a severe congenital bite problem. Treatments such as these are often done in conjunction with an orthodontist for pre- or post-surgical realignment.

Reconstructive surgeries after accidents, or to correct birth defects such as a cleft lip or palate are also performed by oral, or maxillofacial, surgeons. These specialists are also called in to make repairs and do plastic surgery after accidents and facial injuries, and post-tumor removal. Since maxillofacial surgeons are trained in both soft and hard tissue surgeries, they often work alongside physicians whenever there has been serious facial trauma.

Oral surgeons are not the only dental specialists — visit the American Dental Association for a complete list that will be featured in a future article. Your teeth are important to your health and well-being, so it’s reassuring to know that there are so many highly trained professionals to aid you should the need arise. Next time you’re visiting the Sacramento Dentistry Group, ask your dental professional what caused them to choose dentistry as a career. Dentistry is our passion, and each of us has a story about why we chose this rewarding profession.

Sacramento Dentistry
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