Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the branch of dentistry that focuses on treating diseases in the tissues of the head, neck, jaws, face, and mouth. People who experience pain in these areas are referred to as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment by a dentist. “Oral” refers to the mouth, and “maxillofacial” refers to the face and jaws.
If you ever experience a severe dental emergency, you’ll be in good hands when you visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. These dental surgeons must complete a four-year graduate degree in dentistry, as well as a four-year hospital surgical residency program; sometimes, the residency program lasts a minimum of six years.
Are you preparing for an appointment with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, but don’t know what it entails? Continue reading to find out more about these dental specialists.
What Do Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Specialize In?
Being an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a demanding job. This type of surgeon must understand all the ins and outs of dentistry, such as general medicine and every kind of oral and facial surgery. Think of an oral surgeon as a combination of a dentist and an orthodontist. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat hard and soft tissue problems. Moreover, oral surgeons work on sensitive areas such as gums, as well as hard structures like the jawbone and parts of the neck.
Not only do oral surgeons have to be well-versed in all areas of dentistry, but they must be able to work under intense pressure. Typically, most people only see an oral surgeon when they’re in a crisis that requires immediate attention. For instance, someone who has broken some of their teeth as a result of a car collision or a sports-related accident is likely to be referred to an oral surgeon. Although oral surgeons are equipped to treat bleeding gums and chipped teeth, a patient should consult with a dentist if their injuries are minor.
What Procedures Do Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Perform?
Here are a few of the procedures oral surgeons perform daily:
- Tooth extractions: Tooth extractions are the most common procedure oral surgeons perform. Patients are referred to an oral surgeon when wisdom teeth are forming in a position where they can’t erupt properly. Minor surgery is required to extract impacted wisdom teeth, even if the teeth aren’t causing any problems. Oral surgeons can perform a tooth extraction in minutes because of how commonplace this surgery is. Surgeons perform this procedure in their office using sedation dentistry techniques.
- Corrective jaw surgery: Also known as orthognathic surgery, it corrects a wide range of skeletal and dental irregularities, including the misalignment of jaws and teeth. A person who undergoes jaw surgery usually has their jaw reshaped and repositioned by the surgeon. Successful jaw surgery can improve breathing, speaking, and chewing issues. Oral surgeons use general anesthesia on their patients when performing jaw surgery, and they work closely with orthodontists in planning for this procedure.
- Cleft lip surgery: Cleft lip is the separation of one or both sides of the lip present at birth. Cleft lip surgery is reconstructive surgery for people born with this condition, and the operation is typically performed on children. If your child must undergo cleft lip surgery, they will be placed under general anesthesia.
The thought of going through oral surgery might make you feel uncomfortable, but surgery will improve your quality of life. If you or a family member need oral surgery, schedule an appointment with Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah. Our board-certified oral surgeons specialize in wisdom tooth extraction, jaw surgery, dental implants, and several other procedures. Contact us today.