An oral surgeon, also known as an oral & maxillofacial surgeon, is a dental specialist. All general dentists and specialists spend upwards of seven or eight years in college and dental school earning a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Both of these dental degrees are equivalent. An oral surgeon will spend an additional four to six years in training after dental school, in both a hospital-based and a private practice based surgical environment.
As a specialist an oral surgeon agrees to forgo practicing the areas of dentistry outside of his or her scope of specialty training and focuses strictly on performing surgical procedures.
These procedures include simple and complicated teeth extractions, wisdom teeth removal, placement of dental implants, soft/hard tissue biopsies, facial trauma reconstruction, removal of cysts and tumors of the jaws, orthognathic surgery (jaw realignment surgery), cosmetic and TMJ surgeries.
If your general dentist has referred you to an oral surgeon it is likely because they have determined that an oral surgeon’s level of expertise will improve your chances for having a proper evaluation and a better outcome with the particular procedure you’ve been advised to undergo. Your dentist may have also referred you to a particular oral surgery office because he or she knows the oral surgeons and work with them on a regular basis. General dentists will typically only refer you to specialists they trust as they view the surgeon as an extension of their own office.
By visiting an oral surgeon, you are choosing to see someone who has undergone rigorous specialty training, who has years of experience performing the procedure you need and who has exposure to treat the variety of complications that may arise after surgery.