Franklin Lakes Living, Issue 1, Oct 2019
While the phrase “oral surgeon” is familiar, who we are and what we do is often blurred with other disciplines in medicine and dentistry. The American Dental Association officially defines Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as “the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the function and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissue of the oral and maxillofacial region.” As surgical experts of the dental profession, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (“OMFS”) are trained to treat a wide array of problems relating to the esthetics and function of the mouth, jaws, teeth, face and neck. Oral surgeons surgically correct cleft palates, rebuild traumatized and deformed jaws, cheeks, noses, eye sockets and foreheads. In addition, we remove complex tumors as well as impacted wisdom teeth and other complicated nonrestorable teeth. Oral surgeons also perform complex bone grafting to rebuild jaws for dental implants. We treat jaw pain related to dysfunction of the jaw joint, commonly called the TMJ.
As is the case with any surgical specialty, oral surgeons receive rigorous training. We attend four years of dental school and will graduate with either a DMD (doctor of dental medicine) or DDS (doctor of dental surgery) degree. Upon earning a dental degree, oral surgeons proceed to a hospital-based residency program for at least an additional four to six years. Competition is intense for OMFS training spots as only about 170 positions are available annually. Most residency programs only consider candidates in the top 10% of their dental school class. While in OMFS residency, surgeons train alongside anesthesiologists, internist, general surgeons, plastic surgeons, ENTs and emergency physicians. Upon completion of surgical training, most OMFSs will undertake final specialty examinations. The certifying body in the United States is the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Upon successful completion of the certification process, your OMS is a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.
After completing the required four years of dental school and at least four years of a hospital based residency program oral surgeons become a vital part of the healthcare team and community. We work closely with dentists and medical professionals who both refer their patients to the OMFS for diagnosis and treatment of specialized oral and maxillofacial problems. The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will also provide hospital care by taking call in trauma centers and hospitals where they tend to patients who have suffered maxillofacial trauma and infections. Whether it is an injury or a disease of the face, jaws, teeth or mouth you can count on an OMS to provide a high standard of care.