Oral and maxillofacial surgery is recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as one of the nine specialties in dentistry. Practitioners of this type of dentistry are commonly referred to as oral surgeons, and they focus on the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases, injuries, and issues related to the face, head, neck, mouth, jaw, teeth, and hard and soft tissues of the mouth. A maxillofacial (oral) surgeon is initially trained in dentistry, and then undergoes continuing education and training in this specialty.
Patients who suffer from functional dental concerns, oral disease, and traumatic injuries are often referred to a maxillofacial surgeon by their general dentist. Oral surgeons also work closely with restorative dentists in the preparation of the jaw for dental implants, by surgically inserting the metal screws into the jaw that will act as artificial tooth roots. In many cases, maxillofacial surgeons also work closely with cosmetic dentists or with plastic surgeons to ensure an esthetically-pleasing result.
Here are some of the most common functions and skills of a maxillofacial (oral) surgeon:
- Diagnosis and treatment of benign or malignant cysts and tumors of the jaw, face, head, and neck.
- Diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer.
- Diagnosis and treatment of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders).
- Reconstructive surgery of the jaw.
- Surgical treatment of sleep apnea.
- Surgery to insert the titanium tooth roots that support dental implants.
- Removal of diseased or impacted teeth, including wisdom teeth.
- Treating facial trauma.
- Cosmetic procedures such as cheek implants, ear surgery, eyelid lifts, facelifts, rhinoplasty (cosmetic nose surgery).
- Treatment of severe gum (periodontal) disease.
- Treatment of cleft lip and palate procedures.
- Wisdom tooth extraction.