Scope and Training
Following dental school, oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete a minimum of four years in a hospital-based surgical residency program. They train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology, and also spend time in otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and emergency medicine. Their training focuses almost exclusively on the hard (ie, bone) and soft (ie, skin, muscle) tissue of the face, mouth, and jaws. Depending on the residency program, some surgeons may also choose to earn a medical or other advanced degree. Some may also complete fellowships in sub-specialty areas.
At the conclusion of this demanding program, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are well-prepared to:
- Manage diseases of the teeth and their supporting soft and hard tissues.
- Surgically reconstruct inadequate bone structure in the jaw area.
- Evaluate, plan a course of treatment and place dental implants to replace one, two or a mouthful of missing teeth.
- Expertly treat head and neck trauma and injuries to the face, jaws, mouth and teeth.
- Diagnose and treat facial pain.
- Diagnose and treat oral cancer and other diseases in the maxillofacial region.
- Perform corrective jaw surgery to improve the function and appearance of patients with such conditions as cleft lip and palate and other congenital defects.
- Diagnose and surgically treat obstructive sleep apnea.
- Perform facial cosmetic procedures to enhance facial appearance and function.