When you need to have a cavity filled or a single tooth extracted, it’s fairly normal to see your regular dentist. But what if your oral issues require lower jaw surgery or a full denture implant? In those cases, you’d go to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Let’s take a closer look at what these oral specialists do and how they achieve their title.

What is oral and maxillofacial surgery?

Simply put, oral and maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty that specifically addresses oral health. This field covers the diagnosis, surgery, and treatment of both functional and aesthetic oral health problems. Whether that means performing a dental implant surgery or correcting a jaw issue, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will handle it. Some other types of oral surgery procedures these professionals perform include:

  • Oral cyst and tumor removal
  • Jaw alignment
  • Aesthetic oral surgery
  • Wisdom tooth removal

What makes these surgeons so special?

While a general dentist will complete four years of dental school and then enter the industry as a practicing professional, oral and maxillofacial surgeons go on to even higher levels of specialized education. After completing dental school, students who wish to become oral and maxillofacial surgeons must spend another four years in a residency program for surgery. There, they learn everything they need to know about emergency medical care, safe surgical practices, and anesthesiology. That’s right! Aside from trained anesthesiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the only medical professionals licensed to administer all types of sedation. So the next time you’re having an oral surgery procedure performed, rest easy knowing your oral surgeon has the specific knowledge to provide you sedation safely.

What are the most common types of oral surgery procedures these surgeons perform?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can perform a wide variety of oral surgeries, but there are a few procedures that are a little bit more routine than others. Three of the most common procedures include:

  • Tooth Extractions
  • Corrective jaw surgery
  • Cleft lip/palate surgery

Considering that oral problems are quite common (over 35 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with TMJ disorders), it’s possible that you might see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in the future, and now you know exactly why these surgeons are so important.