An oral or maxillofacial surgeon performs dental surgeries related to issues and diseases of the gums, teeth and mouth. In some cases, these issues are cosmetic and require reconstructive surgery or tooth replacement.
This specialty is recognized and accredited by the American Dental Association after completion of dental school and a hospital-based residency for at least four consecutive years.
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This includes specialized training in general surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and plastic surgery. During this training, the specialist studies soft and hard bone tissue ailments of the face, jaw and entire mouth area.
Types of surgeries that require the expertise of an oral surgeon may include facial cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, facial trauma, correction of skeletal deformities, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) surgery, treatment of oral cancer and head, neck and craniofacial surgeries.
Initially, your family doctor or dentist may make a referral to a surgeon. A dental surgeon can perform more complex procedures than a dentist who holds only a doctorate of medical dentistry. This type of surgeon has the expertise, tools and equipment to handle more advanced cases of dental health problems.
The surgeon and his staff are often better equipped than your dentist to place you under general anesthesia for longer periods of time, due to training and advanced medical equipment.
You most likely will not have to see a dental surgeon routinely. He or she will likely recommend for you to follow up with regular checkups with your family dentist.