Oral refers to the mouth. Maxillofacial refers to the upper jaw and face, and to the adjacent neck and head. Oral and maxillofacial surgery refers to surgical procedures undertaken by surgeons and specialist dentists in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a specialized field bridging medicine and dentistry. It seeks to diagnose and address medical conditions that affect the neck, face, jaws and mouth. These diseases include impacted teeth, temporomandibular joint disorders, tumors and cysts of the jaws, cancers affecting the head and neck, facial pain, facial disproportion, salivary gland diseases, and mouth infections and ulcers.
An oral or a maxillofacial surgeon does not just remove teeth. They are trained in both dentistry and medicine to do various complex procedures ranging from complicated tooth extractions, to bone grafts, and treatment of cleft palate and mouth cancers.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery includes cosmetic and surgical procedures conducted to correct problems with the neck, jaws, mouth and facial structures. It includes correction of cleft palates, as well as rebuilding foreheads, cheeks, jaws, noses, and eye sockets damaged in accidents. It also includes removing wisdom teeth and tumors and cysts found in the jaws, doing dental implants and bone grafts to improve facial appearance, and cosmetic surgery, both elective and reconstructive in nature.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery requires extensive education and training. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a graduate of an accredited dental university. They have completed between four to seven years of intensive medical and surgical training through a hospital-based residency program. The broad intensive training prepares them to do an extensive range of complex oral and maxillofacial surgical operations effectively.
What are the procedures that an oral and maxillofacial surgeon usually do?
– Teeth extraction
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon removes not only broken down teeth, but also those that are difficult to remove, particularly impacted wisdom teeth.
– Jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery
Orthognathic surgery helps in addressing problems with the temporomandibular jaw joint, as well as other jaw problems. The surgeon realigns the jaws, and sometimes does orthodontic braces as well as part of the solution.
– Surgeries to correct birth defects
An oral surgeon helps children born with cleft palate and cleft lip by doing reconstructive surgery.
– Facial reconstruction
An individual whose looks are damaged by an accident usually goes to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for facial rehabilitation.
– Dental implants
An oral surgeon may do the surgical part of an implant. A prosthodontist or dentist will usually take care of putting on the crown.
Other procedures that an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can do are removal of benign cysts and tumors, removal of cancerous growths located in the head, mouth, or neck, rhinoplasty and other cosmetic procedures involving the neck, mouth and jaw, treatment of facial blemishes through laser surgery and treatment of sleep apnea.