What Does an Oral Surgeon Do?

Ever wondered what an oral surgeon actually does? If you think they only pull teeth, you’re in for a surprise. Oral surgeons are specialized dental professionals trained to perform a wide range of complex procedures that go beyond simple extractions.

From corrective jaw surgery to treating facial trauma, these experts handle various issues affecting the mouth, teeth, and face. They work closely with other healthcare providers to ensure comprehensive care for patients, often stepping in when general dentists encounter cases that require advanced surgical skills. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of oral surgery and discover what makes these professionals indispensable in the field of dental health.

Understanding the Role of an Oral Surgeo

Oral surgeons possess specialized expertise in dental surgery. Here’s more about their role and the procedures they perform.

Who Is an Oral Surgeon?

An oral surgeon, also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, specializes in surgeries of the mouth, jaw, and face. After earning a dental degree, they complete additional years of surgical training and residency. Oral surgeons have certifications from the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. They handle complex dental extractions, corrective jaw surgeries, oral cancer treatments, and facial trauma repairs.

Common Procedures Performed by Oral Surgeons

Oral surgeons perform a variety of procedures:

  • Dental Extractions: Removal of impacted or problematic teeth, including wisdom teeth.
  • Corrective Jaw Surgery: Surgical adjustment of jaw alignment to improve function and aesthetics.
  • Dental Implants: Placement of titanium posts to support artificial teeth.
  • Facial Trauma Treatment: Surgical repair of facial injuries such as fractures in the jaw or cheekbones.
  • Cleft Lip and Palate Repair: Reconstruction surgeries to correct congenital deformities.
  • Oral Cancer Treatment: Removal of cancerous tissues from the mouth, followed by reconstructive procedures if needed.

These procedures often require anesthesia and careful post-operative care, ensuring patient safety and recovery.

Education and Training Requirements

Oral surgeons undergo rigorous education and training to ensure their expertise in dental and maxillofacial procedures.

Undergraduate and Dental School

Future oral surgeons first complete a bachelor’s degree, typically focusing on sciences like biology or chemistry. This foundational education prepares them for dental school. Over four years, students earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, learning about general dentistry, oral health, and patient care.

Residency and Specialization

Following dental school, aspiring oral surgeons enter a surgical residency program, which usually lasts four to six years. During residency, they gain hands-on experience in areas like anesthesia, emergency medicine, and complex surgery. Many choose to further specialize in areas such as facial cosmetic surgery or craniofacial surgery, deepening their knowledge with additional training and coursework.

Day-to-Day Operations in Oral Surgery

Oral surgeons carry out a range of tasks daily. From initial consultations to intricate surgical procedures, their duties ensure patient well-being and recovery.

Initial Consultations and Diagnoses

I begin my day with consultations. Patients often visit with concerns like impacted teeth or jaw misalignments. Through these consultations, I perform detailed examinations and use imaging tools like X-rays to diagnose issues precisely. I also discuss treatment options, risks, and recovery expectations, ensuring patients make informed decisions.

Surgical Procedures and Patient Care

My day progresses with various surgeries. Common procedures include wisdom teeth extractions, dental implants, and corrective jaw surgery. These surgeries, often involving anesthesia, require precision and care. Post-operative care is crucial; I provide detailed instructions for recovery and schedule follow-ups to monitor progress. This ensures optimal healing and addresses any complications promptly.

Advanced Techniques in Oral Surgery

Oral surgeons use advanced techniques to ensure precision and efficiency. These methods enhance patient outcomes and streamline recovery.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements have revolutionized oral surgery. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) creates 3D images of dental structures, aiding in accurate diagnoses. Laser technology minimizes bleeding and reduces healing time by precisely targeting tissues. Robotics and computer-assisted surgical systems improve accuracy in complex procedures, like jaw reconstructions. Digital impressions replace traditional molds for custom dental implants, ensuring perfect fits.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Minimally invasive procedures offer significant benefits. They reduce surgical trauma and minimize recovery time. Endoscopic techniques allow for smaller incisions, leading to less scarring. Piezoelectric surgery uses ultrasonic vibrations to cut bone selectively while preserving surrounding tissues. In graftless solutions, dental implants are placed without the need for bone grafts, decreasing discomfort and recovery periods.


Oral surgeons are highly skilled professionals who play a vital role in addressing complex dental and facial issues. Their expertise and use of advanced technologies ensure that patients receive the best possible care. From intricate surgeries to innovative, minimally invasive techniques, these specialists are at the forefront of improving patient outcomes. If you ever need specialized dental care, knowing what an oral surgeon can do might just make all the difference in your treatment and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are needed to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must complete extensive training, including dental school, a surgical residency, and board certification by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

What procedures do oral surgeons typically perform?

Oral surgeons handle complex procedures such as dental extractions, corrective jaw surgeries, and treatments for oral cancer. They also perform advanced techniques using laser technology and robotics.

How is anesthesia managed during oral surgery?

Anesthesia is crucial for patient safety and comfort during oral surgery. Surgeons are trained to administer local, intravenous, or general anesthesia, depending on the procedure’s complexity.

What is cone beam computed tomography (CBCT)?

CBCT is an advanced imaging technique used by oral surgeons for accurate diagnostics. It provides detailed 3D images of the patient’s oral structures, ensuring precise treatment planning.

What are minimally invasive techniques in oral surgery?

Minimally invasive techniques, like endoscopic procedures and piezoelectric surgery, reduce surgical trauma, minimize bleeding, and enhance recovery times for patients.

How do graftless solutions for dental implants work?

Graftless solutions simplify the dental implant process by eliminating the need for bone grafts, reducing discomfort, and shortening recovery periods, leading to better patient outcomes.

How important is post-operative care in oral surgery?

Post-operative care is essential for preventing complications and ensuring successful recovery. Surgeons provide detailed care instructions to manage pain, swelling, and promote healing.

How has technology improved outcomes in oral surgery?

Advancements in technology, including laser technology, robotics, and CBCT, have improved surgical precision, minimized patient discomfort, and enhanced overall outcomes in oral surgery.

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