Dentist or Oral Surgeon: What’s the Difference?

Finding Your Oral Surgeon

An oral surgeon, also called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is a specialist. All generalist and specialist dentists, do seven or eight years in college and dental college earning a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Both degrees are equivalent, the dentist is to practice general dentistry after passing a state licensing exam. An oral surgeon, spends an additional four to six years of in training after dental school, mostly in a hospital-based surgical environment.

The oral surgeon focuses strictly on performing dental surgical procedures and not on any other field of dentistry outside his training. The oral surgeon can do simple to complicated teeth extractions (including wisdom teeth), dental implant placement, repair of broken bones in the jaws and face, removal of cysts and tumors of the jaws, soft tissue biopsies, jaw realignment surgery to correct bite discrepancies, and cosmetic and TMJ surgeries.

There are general dentists or community-based oral surgeons who can do some of the above procedures, some of the time. But an oral and maxillofacial surgeon do all the procedures as a matter of routine. Hence, that oral surgeon is much more exposed to a variant of opportunities and differing situations and challenges in surgery expanding his expertise, adding to his experience. These include challenges like complications, emergencies, and even failures. The oral surgeon tends to have a higher success rate in oral surgeries than would a generalist. This leads to better outcomes.

A good dentist will diagnose and treat only the conditions with which they feel comfortable or for which they have training and will refer you to a specialist for anything further. It will be hard for him to continue to feel confident in situations he has no training in and for which his exposure is limited. He will refer you to a specialist, someone he has confidence in and from whose hands you will derive your best options. This relationship is all for patient benefit above anything else.

All for Patient Benefit in Auburn

Find in your Auburn dentist also a professional whose passion lies in oral surgery, among other fields of interest. Consult with him on any matter of dental concern and he will tell you if his expertise covers your best treatment plan. Like any good generalist, he will recommend when your situation warrants it.