What is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is someone who treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area of the body includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues.

Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.

What does an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon do?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons often meet with patients who are referred from their general dentist or primary care doctor after a diagnosis has been made.

Most think of oral and maxillofacial surgery as a dental specialty, but the type of work needed is usually much more intricate and complex than what a general dentist does. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is really a combination of both a dentist and a medical doctor - many oral and maxillofacial surgeons have degrees in both dentistry and medicine.

There are several dental and medical conditions that may require surgery, such as:

  • removal of impacted, damaged, and non-restorable teeth
  • reconstructive surgery after removing tumours from the face, neck, jaw, or mouth
  • temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • infections of the oral cavity, salivary glands, jaws, and neck
  • oral mucosa, such as mouth ulcers
  • jaw surgery to realign the jaws (orthognathic surgery)
  • dental implants, and the regeneration of deficient bone and gum tissues
  • structural abnormalities involving the mouth, neck or face
  • congenital defects (cleft lip and palate and jaw growth problems)
  • oral cancer (removal of tissue or tumours for biopsy)
  • facial injuries including facial lacerations, intra-oral lacerations, and fractured facial bones
  • cosmetic dental procedures (such as chin and cheekbone enhancements)

A facial and oral abnormality could not only interfere with someone’s ability to function normally, it can affect every part of their life. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have the skills necessary to restore a person's function and appearance, but foremost, a person’s ability to live normally.

Are you suited to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have distinct personalities. They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is right for you.

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What is the workplace of an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon like?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons work for hospitals, large medical centres and dental practices. Advancement opportunities may include working as a professor at a dental school or supervising residents in training. In addition to working for a dental practice or healthcare facility, many oral and maxillofacial surgeons open up their own practices.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons often work very long hours. Surgery within the oral cavity and maxillofacial area is often very intricate and complex. Oral surgeons may also need to be on call for emergencies that require immediate treatment.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are also known as:
Oral Surgeon