Learning what an oral surgeon does is a great idea. There are many different types of dental professionals in business, making it necessary to understand the differences between each type of professional. When it comes to oral surgeons, they tend to focus on correcting dental problems using one or more surgical processes.Consultation appointments with oral…
Oral Surgeon Vs. General Dentist: FAQs
An oral surgeon spends a lot of their time extracting teeth and performing root canals. So does a general dentist. Is there a difference in how each type of dentist performs certain procedures? Is it better to see a general dentist, or should you opt for an oral surgeon instead?
For answers to these questions, keep reading. This article contains a few FAQs that touch on the comparison between general dentists and oral surgeons.
What an oral surgeon does
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a type of dental specialist that performs surgical procedures to treat the teeth, jaws and soft tissues of the oral cavity. The surgeon also has the skill to treat or repair facial muscles around the mouth area.
However, it is common procedures like wisdom tooth extraction or dental implant surgery that bring up the oral surgeon vs. general dentist debate. Some frequently asked questions and their answers are a great way to compare the two types of dentists.
1. Are oral surgeons a type of dentist?
Yes, they are. Like general dentists, oral surgeons go to dental school. A dentist that wants to pursue oral surgery as a specialty will continue with their training. They will sign up for surgical residency for a period of four to six years. During this time, they will gain hands-on surgical experience in a hospital setting.
2. Do oral surgeons provide preventative care?
A general dentist is the best type of dental professional for this job. They provide holistic care that touches on every aspect of their patients’ oral health. This care sometimes involves procedures that require the placement of dental restorations. Depending on their patient’s needs, the dentist may consult with an orthodontist, periodontist or any other dental specialist.
3. Why would a patient need an oral surgeon for a tooth extraction?
General dentists perform tooth extractions all the time, but not all extractions are equal. A general dentist may easily remove a partially erupted wisdom tooth. However, an impacted wisdom tooth that lies inside the jawbone is a different matter. They will refer such patients to an oral surgeon with the training and experience to operate on bone and the structures that surround it.
4. Why would a patient need an oral surgeon for root canal therapy?
In tooth anatomy, the root canal is the space inside a tooth root. The section of the dental pulp that extends down the gumline sits inside this space. In many patients, the root canal is a single tunnel with no branches. When such a patient requires root canal therapy, a general dentist can easily remove all the infected tissue from the simple root canal.
However, if the same patient has a root canal with branches, the dentist may fail to remove all of the infection, which could result in the eventual failure of root canal treatment. The dentist will refer their patient to an oral surgeon, who will likely perform an apicoectomy to remove every last bit of the infection.
5. Should a patient choose to get their dental implants from a dentist or an oral surgeon?
The patient’s best bet is an oral surgeon, if only because of the surgeon’s wealth of experience in this particular treatment. An oral surgeon has years of practical training in dental implant surgery. They also spend much of their time placing dental implants and performing preparatory procedures like bone grafts and nerve repositioning. Performing countless dental implant surgeries also gives oral surgeons the knowledge to anticipate, avoid and deal with complications during treatment.
6. Are there certain procedures that only an oral surgeon can perform?
The short answer is yes. Because an experienced oral surgeon has the skill and certification to operate on the oral cavity and the face, they are versatile. They perform surgeries like:
- Removal of tumors, cysts and lumps
- Cleft lip/cleft palate repair
- Jaw expansion
- Corrective jaw surgery including jaw realignment and reshaping
- Reconstructive surgery of the face and jaw
7. Do oral surgeons provide a wider variety of pain management options?
Yes, they do. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons undergo practical training in the administration of IV sedation and general anesthesia. This puts them in a great position to offer sedation dentistry.
Learn more about oral surgery from our team
If you need an oral surgeon for any reason, get in touch with us today. Our surgeon is happy to talk with you and walk you through your treatment options.
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