If you visited a dentist and were then referred to an oral surgeon either for an assessment or a treatment, you may wonder why this was necessary. If both do dental work, why do you have to switch to another dental professional? A dentist and an oral surgeon are very different in the scope of what they do.
A dentist is highly focused on preventive care with professional cleaning of the teeth and regular x-rays. They also provide a number of basic treatments like putting in fillings and sealants and installing bridges. They may also provide a few cosmetic services such as tooth whitening or installing veneers.
An oral surgeon, technically called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, has had a more extensive education and handles a number of important treatments for dental, facial and jaw problems. They can treat facial trauma and tooth loss as well as conduct oral pathology and remove teeth that are impacted. They generally have four to eight years more of education and training than a general dentist. They also have to pass board exams in order to be able to work in their field.
The Oral Surgery Office
In addition to more education and more exacting training that prepares them for dental and facial surgeries, oral surgeons also have very different offices. The oral surgery office is differently equipped for these types of surgeries. It comes well-equipped for performing surgeries, and that includes specialized equipment for sedation and anesthesia. They have equipment that uses advanced technology that dentists often don’t. This allows them to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions and to develop treatment plans that are best suited to the anatomy of each person.
The use of anesthesia is an important part of their specialization. They are able to give you IV sedation drugs so that you are asleep during certain procedures. There is specialized training that goes into this method, and oral surgeons have all of the equipment needed. Sometimes a dentist will give a patient a lower level of sedation, but they are often not equipped or trained for heavier sedation.
The many tools and pieces of equipment in an oral surgeon’s office get used often since the doctor is a specialist. If a dentist has any of this equipment, they will not have the same amount of experience in using it, as it would only be used infrequently. The high-tech oral surgeon’s office is full of specialized equipment that the surgeon uses day after day to diagnose and treat patients.
The staffing of an oral surgeon’s office will also be different. While most of the staff of a dentist’s office is made up of dental hygienists, the office of an oral surgeon may have specialists that are highly trained in functions like administering anesthesia.
Services Provided by Oral Surgeons
There are many services that oral surgeons are trained for and provide to their patients. If you need any of these services, you will likely be referred to an oral surgeon who is well-equipped and trained to handle it. If you have an impacted tooth, such as a wisdom tooth, you will need an oral surgeon to extract it, as this often requires the surgeon to cut into the jawbone as well as into the gums. They may also handle other tooth extractions. They also do emergency work such as restoring a tooth that has been knocked out.
Oral surgeons also replace teeth by installing dental implants. This entails taking a titanium screw and installing it into the jawbone. Often, a patient needs a bone graft to build up the bone before the implant is put in. An oral surgeon can add a bone graft so that the bone is stronger and thicker and serves as a good base for the screw. The oral surgeon then has ways to encourage the bone to grow.
If you have a jaw disorder, you will need an oral surgeon. They treat problems like congenital deformities, accident trauma, bone infections and TMJ problems. If you need a sinus lift, see an oral surgeon. This is done because the upper jaw bone is too thin for implants either due to always being too thin or thinning over time. The oral surgeon can make the bone grow thicker in this area to make it less risky for implants. Otherwise, getting implants could penetrate the sinuses.
When you have been referred to an oral surgeon by a dentist, you are getting the best care. Your dentist will help you with preventative measures and the more in-depth treatments can be handled by a different professional with the training and experience with those treatments. If you need more information about oral surgeons and/or about the treatments that they provide, call us today to find out more.