Maxillofacial surgeons are doctors trained to perform specialized treatments on the mouth, the jaw and the face. The interventions they handle usually exceed the competence of general dentists and involve surgeries and biopsies. Here is what they know and do in more detail.
The Training of Maxillofacial Surgeons
These doctors study a lot before they can start practicing and they are required to acquire extensive knowledge not only of dentistry and general surgery, but of several other medical disciplines as well. Their training usually involves a four-year college program, followed by a four-or six-year long program in a medical school, then they complete a full residency program in oral surgery. To be allowed to practice, oral surgeons are also required to obtain a state license as well as board certification.
How You Get to a Maxillofacial Surgeon
Most oral surgeons work on a referral basis, which means that the patients who turn to them are referred to them by general dentists who provide the primary dental care.
The Most Common Procedures Performed by Oral Surgeons
Maxillofacial surgeons perform a variety of treatments and interventions – here are the most common ones:
- Dental extractions – while most general dentists are trained to perform simple extractions, it is oral surgeons who handle more complicated cases, such as the extraction of severely infected or inflamed tooth, the extraction of wisdom tooth or the treatment of fractured dental roots that usually require a more complex approach and special conditions;
- The application of dental implants – dental implants are the most advanced dental replacement solutions that are usually applied by oral surgeons who specialize in implantology. The process of getting an implant is lengthy and it involves multiple surgical interventions – it starts with the insertion of the artificial titanium root into the jawbone, followed by a 4-6 months period of healing, then the abutment is installed on the root, followed by a waiting period of similar length, then the final crown is installed. All these process stages require specialized attention that only trained oral surgeons can provide;
- The removal of clogged salivary glands – the oral cavity is lined with thousands of tiny salivary glands that can get easily clogged and inflamed if they sustain some sort of trauma, such as the trauma caused by lip biting. If the glands get clogged, they usually transform into visible bumps that need to be removed surgically;
- The diagnosis and treatment of pathological conditions affecting the oral cavity, the jaws or the surrounding area – oral surgeons are trained to perform biopsies of any tumors or other types of malignant or benign growths in and around the mouth and they can decide on further treatment or refer the patient to another maxillofacial surgeon Highland Park specialist;
- Corrective and cosmetic surgery – oral surgeons also perform surgical interventions intended to correct the damage sustained by the mouth and the face area because of trauma, such as severe blows or accidents. Oral surgeons are also the specialists to turn for the correction of cleft palates.