All oral and maxillofacial surgeons attend 4 years of dental school and are awarded a dental degree. After dental school, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon completes a specialty residency lasting 4-6 years, depending on the institution attended. The residency positions are competitive, and typically accept candidates who graduate at the top of their dental school class. This is similar to the residency programs completed by medical doctors after medical school that undertake specialty training, for example orthopedic or ENT surgery.
The oral and maxillofacial surgery residency includes exposure to most or all of the medical disciplines, including anesthesia, surgery, medicine, pediatrics, ear, nose and throat; and plastic surgery, to name a few. Surgical procedures relative to the teeth, jaws, and face are learned in addition to general medical and surgical principles. Effectively, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon becomes a blend of a dentist and a physician, with dental training to treat tooth related problems, but medical and surgical training, to meet surgical needs that extend beyond the teeth but are related to the jaws and face.
This training uniquely qualifies the oral and maxillofacial surgeon in the management of routine and complex tooth removal, facial and dental infection, facial injuries, diseases of the jaws, mouth and teeth, reconstructive surgery of the jaws and face, replacement of teeth with dental implants, and in the management of jaw joint problems. These treatments can be performed in both office or hospital settings, depending on the patient’s needs.