What is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine dental specialties currently recognized by the American Dental Association and the American College of Surgeons. Oral Maxillofacial surgeons are highly specialized surgeons that are trained to treat a wide range of disorders and jaw and tooth emergencies.

What Kinds of Situations do Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Treat?

If you had your wisdom teeth removed, chances are they were removed by an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. These surgeons treat a wide variety of oral issues, as well as injuries and diseases in and around your jaw.

They aren’t the kind of specialist you’ll call in if you have a chipped tooth. But if you lose a tooth and need a replacement, you might find yourself talking to an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. They handle implants, and more extensive oral and jaw repairs and reconstructions after accidents.

You might also need an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon if you need a jaw re-alignment. They also treat tumors and cysts that develop on or near your jaw and can earn additional specializations to treat complex issues like cleft palates.

Some Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons can also perform a variety of cosmetic procedures, including cosmetic implants.

Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons can also be called on to consult with other doctors for some issues. If you have sleep apnea, you might go to an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon so that they can work with your doctor as a consultant. They might also get called in to help correct and treat obstructive sleep apnea and other condition that involve your mouth and jaw.

This type of surgeon can also be critical in the treatment of certain types of oral cancers.

How are Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Trained:

Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons need to complete dental school before they can move on to their specialization. That means that they have the same skills and expertise as your dentist, plus additional training, and specialization. It also means that your Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons can also notice and diagnose a variety of mouth and tooth issues, just like your dentist.

Depending on why you’re seeing an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, they make recommendations for your oral health and future care.

After dental school, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons study for another 4-6 years learning the additional surgical skills needed for the base specialty. Beyond that, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons can also spend another 1-2 years earning additional specialties.

Their specialties include:

  • Cosmetic facial surgery
  • Craniofacial surgery and pediatric maxillofacial surgery
  • Treating craniofacial traumas

The result is that these are some of the most highly specialized and skilled surgeons out there. Other than anesthesiologists, they are the only specialists able to use all forms of sedation. They have a strong understanding of your face and jaw, as well as the inner workings of your mouth and teeth.

If you ever find yourself in the care of an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, rest assured that you’re in good hands. Their extensive training and specialization makes them some of the most qualified people out there to help you diagnose and treat issues starting with your mouth and jaw.

Your mouth and jaw are important for your whole body’s health, so these treatments are about a lot more than just having good teeth for a family picture. Taking care of your mouth and jaw can have a huge effect on your overall health.

Why You Should Have an Oral Surgeon Perform Extractions

One of the stereotypes of the dentist, especially in cartoons, is that they are known for pulling out teeth. In fact, one can argue that this stereotype (along with constant drilling for cavities) can be the root of the fear of the dentist that many children (and some adults) have. While dentists perform a wide amount of oral care and will pull teeth when needed, the procedure of tooth extraction is best left for oral surgeons for a variety of reasons. Many dentists will refer extractions to oral surgeons, but surgeons should be considered in all cases – and here’s why.


Oral Surgeons Perform FAR More Tooth Extractions


Dentists cover a wide variety of procedures and care information during their education and residency. Oral surgeons specialize in just surgical procedures. While there are obviously far more procedures than just extractions, this specialization means that an oral surgeon will perform hundreds, if not thousands, of extractions during their residency, which is far more than a dentist. This gives an oral surgeon loads of hands-on, practical experience to make the procedure an exceptionally successful one.


If You Want Sedation, Go with a Surgeon


Even routine surgical procedures can cause anxiety in patients, and the thought of being awake and cognizant during the procedure can just add to the nerves. Most dentists don’t have the ability or the certification to use anesthesia during a tooth extraction. However, oral surgeons are all licensed to use full anesthesia for a procedure, rather than just local. While this doesn’t impact the actual outcome of the procedure, it can certainly make you feel a whole lot better about going in for an extraction!


Prepared for All Circumstances


Even practiced dentists and oral surgeons can’t perfectly predict how an extraction will go. Sometimes, an extraction that seems routine can shift with a tooth cracking or extra tissue needing to be removed. An oral surgeon has the know-how and all the facilities to handle these unforeseen issues quickly and successfully. Even more, if an extraction has notable difficulties going into the procedure such as multiple curved roots, an oral surgeon will absolutely be the best option to get a positive result.


If you are in need of an extraction, it is always worth considering and selecting an oral surgeon to perform the procedure, whether or not your dentist actually refers you to one or not. It is hard to match the expertise and experience of a good oral surgeon when it comes to tooth extraction.

Give us a call or set up an appointment online. We look forward to serving you.

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

The statistics are sobering. Approximately 53,000 new cases of oral cancer were reported in the U.S. in 2019 alone, resulting in the estimated death of almost 11,0000 people from all walks of life. And if you think you aren’t susceptible because you’re a non-smoker, think again. The risk for oral cancer can be just as much the result of both a genetic predisposition and poor dietary and nutrition habits as it is tobacco.


But oral cancer isn’t untreatable. In fact, the overall 5 year survival rate for patients diagnosed with either oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 65 percent, with numbers reaching as high as 84 percent if diagnosed early enough.


Those numbers alone should convince you of the importance of early oral cancer screenings. But screenings alone aren’t enough. You have to know what to watch out for specifically.


Symptoms of Oral Cancer


During an oral cancer screening, dentists may look for any number of symptoms. Some of the most common can include:


  • Consistent difficulty in chewing, speaking, swallowing, or moving the jaw.
  • Displacement in teeth or jaw.
  • Erosion, lumps, thickness, or unnatural abrasions inside the mouth.
  • Pain, soreness, and irritation inside the mouth and lips.
  • Numbness and pain when biting.
  • Reddish or white patches.
  • Spots inside the mouth which bleed continuously.


Where Does Oral Cancer Occur?


There are two forms of oral cancer. One form is within the oral cavity itself, which includes the front of your tongue, your gums, the insides of your cheeks, your lips, teeth and the roof of your mouth. The other is oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the throat; including the base of your tongue and your tonsils.


Am I At Risk for Oral Cancer?


Patients with the following factors have a higher susceptibility to oral cancer:


  • Aged 40+
  • Excessive drinking habits
  • Poor diet
  • Previous diagnosis of HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun
  • Tobacco usage (including smokeless tobacco and vaping.)


How Can an Early Screening Prevent Oral Cancer?


It’s important to remember that oral cancer typically won’t be diagnosed until tests are run at a lab; so, if your dentist notices any abnormality, stay calm. It may not be cancer, but a benign disorder that can be easily treated without invasive surgery.


A screening alone won’t prevent cancer. If diagnosed early enough, oral cancer can be treated successfully through any number of therapies, often with a substantially higher success rate than other forms of cancer. But most dentists and oral surgeons will agree that the best preventative care is a change in your lifestyle. Review the above listed factors and eliminate or address any particularly high-risk elements. Consult with Dr. Davis about the best course of action for you if tests come back positive. You might find that a change in habit won’t just change the health of your mouth. It will transform every single part of you.



The health of your mouth is critical. Call us today at (435) 628-1100 or visit us at Oral and Facial Surgery Institute.