What is the difference between a dental surgeon and a dentist?

While dentists are primary care physicians responsible for maintaining a patient's oral health along with simple treatments, oral surgeons perform evaluations and procedures for specific and complex problems and surgeries. Oral surgeons, also known as maxillofacial surgeons, focus on performing surgery to treat problems in the mouth, jaw, or face. Oral surgeons can perform tooth extractions, including removing wisdom teeth. They also deal with more complex surgeries, such as soft tissue biopsies, tumor removal, jaw realignment, implant placement, soft tissue repair, and reconstructive surgery after an accident.

Oral surgeons focus solely on dental surgery and are often referred to as oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Some common surgeries performed are wisdom tooth extraction, temporomandibular joint corrections, reconstruction of defects or injuries, extraction of oral cancer masses, and dental implants. Oral surgeons complete a surgical residency after dental school, and some even earn a medical degree along with their dental degree. While dentists are perfectly capable of performing simple extractions and basic dental care, it may be best to consult an oral surgeon for any type of surgical procedure.

This ensures that you receive the best care for your specific surgery and minimal recovery time. Patients who need tooth extractions or dental implants also need the care and attention of an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Dentists tend to have more limited anesthetic options than oral surgeons because they perform fewer surgeries. Patients are generally referred to an oral surgeon when a problem is beyond the reach of a general dentist's experience.

During their studies, dentists also receive practical training in diagnosing and treating dental problems through hands-on clinical experience. For example, a dentist must complete an additional four to six years of training in a residency program to be an oral surgeon. Whether someone wants to be a dentist or an oral surgeon, their training and education start the same way. If you have a more complex situation or need surgery, your dentist will likely suggest that you see an oral surgeon in Lincoln Square.

If you're ever unsure if you need to see an oral surgeon, make an appointment with your dentist in Chicago first. Usually, a dentist will complete their undergraduate studies, finish the dental school entrance exam, and then attend dental school for four to five years. A patient recently told me that her dental implants were placed by her general dentist, who is also an oral surgeon. If you don't need any oral surgery or just need simple extractions that your dentist can perform, you may never need to see an oral surgeon in your life.

An oral surgeon, also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is essentially a dentist who has extensive training specializing in complex dental problems. You can visit your dentist or an oral surgeon to have a tooth extracted, but you need to see an oral surgeon for a more complex case, such as jaw reconstruction. However, the question that many people ask is when do you visit a specialist instead of a general dentist? Here's a breakdown of the difference between a general dentist and a dental specialist, such as an oral surgeon. DMD means doctor of medicine in dentistry or doctor of dental medicine, depending on the university offering the degree.


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