• Finding the Right Maxillofacial Surgeon

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    How many times have you taken fifteen minutes to choose something from the menu at a restaurant?

    But what about a more important decision, like finding a healthcare provider? How often do we just pick the first name we see, when this is a choice that can impact our quality of life?

    If you are in need of a maxillofacial surgeon in Utah, you may be feeling overwhelmed at trying to make a decision. How do you find the right surgeon for you?

    Let’s start with the basics. Maxillofacial surgeons are actual surgeons, who happen to work in areas related to dentistry. They receive extensive training and education to certify them to administer anesthetic; perform surgeries; treat conditions, defects and injuries; and improve the aesthetics of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. The following is a guide for finding the right maxillofacial surgeon in Utah.

    These are the primary characteristics to consider:

    Training

    First, find out if the oral surgeon is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This is the first, and most important step in selecting a surgeon. Why? Because to be board certified, the surgeon has to be a graduate of an accredited dental school, be licensed by the state, and have completed an oral and maxillofacial residency in a hospital. In other words, this tells you whether or not they are qualified to perform a surgery on you.

    But training can go beyond this formal schooling. What additional training has the surgeon had? Every maxillofacial surgeon must complete dental school, then four years in a hospital-based surgical residency program. They are trained in a variety of areas from plastic surgery to emergency medicine, but they focus almost exclusively on the hard and soft tissue of the mouth, face, and jaws. Some will also complete a fellowship in a sub-specialty area. So while all maxillofacial surgeons go through a lot of schooling and training, some specialize even more. You should also ask if they have experience with cosmetic surgery.

    Specialties

    Finding the right surgeon for you might mean finding the one that specializes in the specific treatment you need. Maxillofacial surgeons perform a variety of services, including these:

    • Dental implants

    • Wisdom tooth removal

    • Treatment for oral cancer

    • Treatment for jaw problems

    When selecting the right maxillofacial surgeon for your needs, consider what specific condition you need treated, and look for a surgeon who specializes in that area of service. Take the time to ask potential surgeons the following questions:

    • How long have you been in practice?

    • How many times have you performed my specific procedure?

    • Do you participate in any ongoing training or education?

    You want to find a surgeon with plenty of experience with your specific need.

    Technology

    Next, consider the level of technology that is offered at the surgical facility where you are considering having your procedure. Do they use the latest proven technology and equipment for surgical procedures? This may include 3-D bone evaluations, the latest technology for painless dentistry, implants, etc. The reason it is important to choose a surgeon who is up to date with the technology is that these advances can help to minimize pain, and also help to speed up recovery times. A Cone Beam CT, for example, provides a 3-D bone evaluation so there are no surprises when removing an impacted wisdom tooth, or implanting teeth. This leads to a faster, safer, and less painful procedure.

    Facility

    The facility is another important consideration. Choosing a surgeon that works in an accredited facility will improve safety and reduce risk. If the Joint Commission accredits a facility, for example, it means that they meet or exceed the 150 plus safety and quality of care standards for their patients. This reduces risk of infection or other safety concerns.

    Finding the right surgeon may take some time. While the education, training and experience of the surgeon matters, do not hesitate to meet the surgeons, ask them your questions, and get a feel for whom you are most comfortable with. It is important to feel at ease, and able to ask your questions.

    Image credit: Tachyondecay