Oral Surgeons and their specialty
Patients often wonder what the differences are between their dental specialists. We all start as dentists but some opt to continue their training to focus in one area of treatment. Oral surgeons and Orthodontists often work closely to perfect growth and jaw anomalies to give patients a perfect smile. I thought it would be helpful to understand the different training we undergo to a specialize prior to entering practice.
Becoming an Oral Surgeon requires 4 years of full-time dental education where one studies head and neck anatomy, dental anatomy, radiology, trauma, dental diseases and dental health. The next step is to attend an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency to receive additional training in the area of our specialty. Specific training for oral surgeons is given which is focused on bones, tissues and the connective structures of the face, mouth, and jaw. We learn specific training in trauma, pathology, reconstruction, implants, extractions, and administration of IV sedation. Any type of surgical intervention in the head and neck is studied in depth during an Oral and Maxillofacial Residency.
We also study emergency medicine, otolaryngology (ENT) and plastic surgery along with other oral surgery techniques. All oral and maxillofacial surgeons must have a university degree in dentistry before their residency training in OMFS. These residency programs are 4 to 6 years in a hospital setting.
Specifically Oral Surgeons are qualified in extracting teeth (to know more about surgical instructions for extractions, placing dental implants and bone grafts, treating chronic conditions like head and neck cancer or benign pathology, management of dental and facial trauma, and management of growth/tooth anomalies that can be treated surgically.
Oral surgeons and orthodontists each specialize in the precise features of dental/ surgical care and treatment, and each plays a different role in maintaining your oral health.
Orthodontists and their specialty
Orthodontists treat dental malocclusions or bite problems with respect to the upper and lower jaws, gums and facial muscles which play a vital role in your ability to bite, chew or speak. Crowded or crooked teeth are not just aesthetically unpleasant but also can cause a lot of pain and tooth wear which creates difficulties for oral hygiene. Pressure on the teeth is applied by the orthodontist with the help of a variety of tools to move these teeth into their proper positions for teeth alignment. In conventional treatment, the orthodontist affixes individual braces to each tooth and attaches them to a wire. The teeth move along the wire, perfecting the smile and bite. Alternatively, the orthodontist uses clear plastic splints that are computer generated, are worn continuously, and must be changed every few weeks as the teeth gradually move into their positions.
Oral Surgeons and Orthodontists – Work together as Team
Both these dental specialties are needed to treat some patients who have jaw and facial deformities as they need both an oral surgeon as well as an orthodontist. For example, impacted canines or other teeth require Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs) to surgically move the tooth into alignment. Impacted canines can also be exposed and uprighted with a gold bracket that is surgically placed for the orthodontist. In the case of corrective jaw surgery, both specialists work together in developing a comprehensive treatment plan. Since many patients require orthodontic treatment both before and after oral surgery patients are best served by working with proficient, trust-worthy professional relationship.
For more information about working with your Oral Surgeon, Orthodontist, and Dentist to achieve a Perfect Smile, contact Dr. Brian Hart or Dr. Kathleen Isdith at 425-353-1009 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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