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Oral Surgeon or Dentist: Which One Should You Visit?

Is it time to see a dentist, or is an oral surgeon more suited to your needs?

Although routine care generally calls for a dentist appointment, more challenging issues typically require the expertise of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Although both types of practitioners deal with issues relating to the oral cavity, these two professional skillsets are different.

Oral Surgeon or Dentist Which One Should You Visit

The Role of a Dentist

A general dentist is a primary dental health provider, responsible for diagnosing, treating and providing preventive care for issues that affect the teeth and mouth.

Dentist duties include cleaning the mouth and repairing teeth with fillings, crowns, veneers, and bridges. Dentists also perform simple tooth extractions, provide fluoride treatments and educate patients. In the course of treatment, dentists look for abnormalities in the teeth, jaws, gums or facial region. If any are found, the patient is referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

The Role of an Oral Surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have years of additional, specialized training in treating problems of the hard and soft tissues in the mouth and face.

When a patient is referred to an oral surgeon, it’s often because a general dentist cannot treat the problem. But in some cases, dentists refer patients out simply because a surgeon is better able to provide the type of specialized care they require.

Reasons to Visit an Oral Surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat a wide range of dental and facial issues. Reasons patients schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon and not a general dentist include:

  • Impacted canine and wisdom teeth

  • Complex tooth extractions

  • Facial fractures and injuries

  • Jaw misalignment

  • Congenital defects

  • Bone loss in the jawbone

  • Dental implant placement

  • Temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) disorder

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

  • Head, neck and mouth cancer


In addition, patients who suffer from dental anxiety often visit oral and maxillofacial surgeons, even when care from a general dentist would suffice. These patients prefer to be sedated for any procedure, and most dentists aren’t qualified to administer intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia.

Think you might need to visit an oral surgeon? For friendly, compassionate care in the greater Salt Lake City area, make an appointment at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah. Our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, deliver first-rate results through treatment designed to maximize patient comfort.

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery employs the latest technological and surgical advances in treating a full range of problems related to the teeth, jaws and facial regions. No matter what type of treatment you require, you’ll be in good hands with our professional team. Rest assured, we’ll do everything we can to give you a positive, comfortable experience.

We’ll help you achieve lasting oral and maxillofacial health. Contact any of our northern Utah offices conveniently located in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele and schedule an oral surgeon consultation today.

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