Oral surgery is a specialization within dentistry that primarily consists of surgery for the mouth, including the gums, jaws and teeth. This type of surgery may also involve operations on your head and neck. Patients with problems in these areas typically receive treatment from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Oral surgery is part of oral maxillofacial surgery in the United States, although it is a separate discipline in other countries. The conditions treated by oral surgeons may be categorized into deformities, injuries, diseases and problems with your teeth.
Oral surgeons must graduate from dental school, which generally requires four years. They must also complete at least four years of residency in a hospital setting, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. The core of the residency program consists of training in anesthesiology, internal medicine and general surgery. Additional areas covered in the residency program include emergency medicine, otolaryngology and plastic surgery. Some oral surgeons earn a medical degree or some other advanced degree during their residency. They may also use their residency to complete a fellowship in a sub-specialty.
Patients with congenital defects such as a cleft lip or cleft palate typically require corrective jaw surgery from an oral surgeon. These surgeons can also reconstruct your jaw in cases where it has insufficient bone structure or is misaligned. Oral surgeons also correct other skeletal deformities of your jaws and face such as obstructive sleep apnea. Cosmetic procedures that improve the appearance of your face are often performed by an oral surgeon.
Injuries to your face, jaws and mouth can also be repaired by an oral surgeon, as well as trauma to your head and neck. This commonly includes accident victims requiring reconstructive surgery. Oral surgeons may also diagnose the cause of facial pain.
Oral surgery commonly treats pathologic conditions to your jaws and face such as cancer and other diseases that cause the loss of tissue. Cancer of the head and neck can also be treated by an oral surgeon. These procedures include reconstruction of both hard and soft tissue. An oral surgeon may remove cysts and tumors.
Oral surgeons are able to place dental implants, which are necessary for dental prostheses such as bridges, crowns and dentures. Oral surgery also includes procedures that treat problems with your teeth and the tissues that support them. This often includes the removal of your wisdom teeth.