February 28, 2020

We Answer Your Questions: What is an Oral Surgeon?


Learn How an Oral Surgeon Can Help You

In our blog so far I’ve covered a wide variety of dental subspecialties, and next up I’ll discuss oral surgeons and why someone may need oral surgery. Many of my patients inquire what is an oral surgeon, especially since other dentists such as periodontists perform surgery. In this post I’ll educate readers on what differentiates an oral surgeon from other dental specialties, what is an oral surgeon, why someone would need the services of an oral surgeon and more.

What is an Oral Surgeon? 

The more formal title of an oral surgeon is oral and maxillofacial surgeon, sometimes abbreviated as OMS. “Maxillofacial” specifically refers to the jaws and face, but since the full name is a mouthful (pun intended), most people simply refer to these dental specialists as oral surgeons. 

Much like periodontists who receive additional training related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, oral surgeons extend their education after dental school to learn how to perform surgical procedures on the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. After the requisite four years of dental school, oral surgeons continue for another four to six years and receive in-depth surgical training. 

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the “knowledge and skills make them proficient in the management of bony and soft tissue reconstruction of the entire maxillofacial skeleton.”

In addition, oral surgeons – unlike other dental specialists – have the ability and training to administer anesthesia in an office where they perform their procedures. The anesthesia helps to get pain and anxiety under control. The types of anesthesia that can be used are general anesthesia/deep sedation or conscious sedation and can safely be used in an office setting.

What Does an Oral Surgeon Do?

Now that I’ve answered the question what is an oral surgeon, below are some reasons why someone may need to visit an oral surgeon:


Wisdom Teeth

Removal of wisdom teeth ranks as one of the most common oral surgeries. It’s necessary for individuals whose third set of molars, or wisdom teeth, don’t properly emerge through the gums or align in the jaw. If this is the case, the wisdom teeth can become impacted, or trapped. When these teeth are stuck between the jawbone and the gum tissue, patients can experience discomfort or even pain, swelling and infection. The surgery to remove the teeth is straight-forward and patients have little down time. Learn more about our wisdom teeth removal services.

Removal of Other Teeth (Dentoalveolar Surgery)

If a patient has to have another type of tooth extracted – for example a decayed or infected tooth or a primary or baby tooth that never fell out – recovery and follow-up treatment will differ depending on the severity of the situation. Regardless, it’s important to have these at-risk teeth removed to prevent more serious or permanent damage in the future.


Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery)

Corrective jaw surgery, otherwise known as orthognathic surgery, is actually pretty common. People undergo jaw surgery for a number of different reasons, including TMJ issues, unequal jaw growth, to improve how dentures fit or simply to improve how someone chews or opens and closes their mouth. Jaw surgery can also enhance the aesthetic appearance of the face. This is an example of a procedure that requires general anesthesia, and therefore a highly trained oral surgeon.


Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate Surgery

Cleft and craniofacial surgery is most commonly performed on children, and the cleft lip or cleft palate repairs actually entail multiple surgeries and various healthcare providers working together. This condition occurs in utero when all or some parts of the mouth and nasal cavity don’t grow together as they should. 


Sleep Apnea or Snoring

While surgery wouldn’t generally be someone’s first choice to solve these common problems, when less invasive solutions such as CPAP or oral appliance therapy fail to work then oral surgery may be needed. Oral surgeons can perform a number of surgeries for sleep apnea including uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction (RFVTR), septoplasty and turbinate reduction and others. If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, the team at South Gables Dental can speak with you about your options.

Facial Injury Correction

When someone experiences a trauma that affects one’s face, such as a car accident, oftentimes an oral surgeon is called in to assist recovery efforts. These may include reconnecting severed nerves, setting a fractured jaw or facial bones or treating other injuries. As with any trauma, it’s important to visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible to address your injuries.

Oral Cancer

Individuals who are lifelong smokers or those who frequently use chewing tobacco are commonly diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, mouth, salivary glands or throat. People who do not use tobacco products can also be diagnosed with a cancer of the head or neck, and if this is the case, then oral surgeons can be one of the healthcare providers involved in the treatment.

The above list does not include all of the reasons why someone would require the services of an oral surgeon, but these include some of the most common. 

And as I previously mentioned, the primary characteristic that differentiates oral surgeons from others is the ability to administer anesthesia, therefore overlaps do exist between procedures performed by oral surgeons and other dental specialists, such as periodontists. 

If you have any questions I’m more than happy to answer them at your next appointment or when you need advanced dental services. 

Find the Best Dentist Oral Surgeon Near Me 

As I stated above, periodontists can perform a number of the same procedures as oral surgeons. At South Gables Dental, we have one of the best periodontists in Coral Gables and Miami who works in our office. Therefore, we offer a number of oral surgery services that do not require anesthesia, as well as general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, endodontic services, periodontal services, orthodontic services and pedodontic services. If you require more advanced oral surgery that necessitates anesthesia, Dr. Lawrence M. Lesperance and his team also work with some of the best oral surgeons in Coral Gables and Miami. They can help arrange your care and stay involved every step of the way to ensure your health and safety.

We Offer Top Oral Surgeon Services in Coral Gables, FL 

Thank you for reading my blog that answers the question what is an oral surgeon. Whether you’re looking for a general dentist, periodontist, endodontist, orthodontist, oral surgeon, prosthodontist or pedodontist, South Gables Dental can help! 

We’re seeing new patients, so you can contact us to schedule an appointment for all of your Coral Gables or Miami dentist needs.

I’m Dr. Lawrence Lesperance, a Coral Gables dentist who specializes in preventative dentistry, general dentistry services, and cosmetic dentistry services. My team and I provide personalized dental services for the whole family and offer Invisalign treatment, implant dentistry, periodontic services and botox treatments (for TMJ and migraines and cosmetic botox) and much more. Contact us to experience the South Gables Dental difference today!

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