Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are recognized as specialists who have completed a degree program in an approved oral and maxillofacial surgery specialist program at an accredited college or medical institution. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have an extensive range of experience and are often board-certified. They perform a variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, dentoalveolar surgery, facelifts, jaw surgery, ear surgery, septoplasty, and corrective plastic surgery for defects or injuries caused by accidents. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also provide other services to their patients, such as oral surgery, oral pathology, soft tissue surgery, blepharoplasty, pediatric surgery, rhinoplasty, orthognathic surgery, and injectable cosmetic treatments. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are licensed by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Obtaining a degree from an accredited program will prepare graduates to enter careers in dentistry, including oral and maxillofacial surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must pass a comprehensive written examination, a one-hour oral exam, a one-hour written pathology examination, and a four-hour oral and maxillofacial surgical examination. Oral surgeons must have at least four years of post-dental school training, and most require at least two years of surgical training. The United States Department of Defense requires that all oral and maxillofacial surgeons are U.S. citizens and hold a national security clearance.
In order to become an oral or maxillofacial surgeon, you need to earn both a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (DDS) at an accredited university and a residency program at a well-known dental university or hospital. The majority of dental schools have a two-year undergraduate program along with a one-year internship program. After graduation, students enroll in a one or two-year residency program where they learn how to operate on and diagnose patients. During the residency, students complete either a two-year course in basic surgery or a four-year course in advanced surgery. Most residents get their first taste of patient care during their internships.
During dental school, students are prepared for their state licensing exam. Once they pass this examination, they can apply to the state board for their specialty. At this time, they should evaluate their training to determine which medical specialties qualify for their board certification. It is also important to research the career options available in their specialty. Oral surgeons who choose a specific specialty can enjoy a higher salary and greater job stability than those who enter into a generalist doctor’s office. Some of the most common surgeries performed by oral surgeons include maxillofacial (facial) reconstruction, cleft palate or lip, tooth extractions, apicoectomy, obstructive sleep apnea surgery, wisdom teeth removal, and dental implants.
The American College of Surgeons is also an excellent source of information on a potential oral surgeon’s career. The ACS operates under the umbrella of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. All prospective candidates for the certification exam must be a member of the academy. The academy’s website contains all of the necessary information for prospective members. If one is not a member of the academy, the website will provide contact information for an individual who can help one obtain membership.
After one has completed an accredited residency program in a major or sub-specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery, he or she may wish to earn his or her master’s degree. Many surgeons opt to double their education. In this case, they would pursue a full professional degree along with a certification. One can obtain a master’s degree in oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontology, pathology, endodontics, public health, and implant dentistry. There are numerous universities, colleges, and medical schools that offer these programs.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is an organization that helps aspiring oral surgeons acquire the knowledge and certification necessary to become a member. This organization does not actually hand out degrees, but rather helps members practice their chosen specialty. The program requires four years of full-time post-baccalaureate study at an accredited medical school.