When Should I See An Oral Surgeon?


In my practice, I frequently refer patients to an oral surgeon for extractions. For example, oral surgeons commonly remove impacted wisdom teeth and perform the surgical aspect of a dental implant procedure. But oral surgeons, also known as maxillofacial surgeons, are also trained to perform surgery on the mouth and jaw. 

What’s the Difference Between an Oral Surgeon and a Dental Surgeon?

Your dentist is a dental surgeon who is a primary care provider for dental medicine. When you schedule a dental exam with your primary dentist, you can expect to get: teeth cleaned, X-rays, and a screening for potential dental problems. Your dentist will likely provide dental fillings, bridges, crowns, and some cosmetic procedures such as veneers and teeth whitening. Most dentists share advice on oral hygiene routines that patients can practice to prevent common dental problems.

Both general dentists and oral surgeons complete four years of full-time study in dental school. Oral surgeons have an extra 4 to 6 years of specialized training that gives them the expertise to perform the most complex surgeries.

What Procedures Does An Oral Surgeon Perform?

Most people know that oral surgeons remove teeth, but are unfamiliar with some of the most complex procedures. For example, oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform:

  • Extractions. In addition to impacted wisdom teeth, oral surgeons perform extractions that are complicated or difficult.
  • Dental implants.  Oral surgeons perform the surgical aspect of an implant as part of the dental implant team.
  • Orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery). This surgery is most commonly done to treat problems with jaws, and may be required for orthodontic braces. 
  • Treatment of birth defects. Children born with a cleft lip and palette will need to have multiple surgeries done by an oral surgeon.
  • Facial reconstruction. Reconstruction of the mouth and face may be required to repair damage resulting from an accident.
  • Removal of benign tumors and cysts.
  • Oral cancer diagnosis and removal.  When a primary dentist finds a suspicious tissue, the patient will be referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy. If required, the oral surgeon can remove oral cancers.

Oral surgeons are just one of the dental specialists that form a comprehensive referral network available to support your personal treatment plan.

Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim


Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in a comprehensive approach to dental care in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.


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