What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?

Are you confused about the difference between a dentist and an oral surgeon? It’s easy to see why! After all, both professions deal with teeth and the mouth, requiring years of education and training. But despite the similarities, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.

In this blog post, “What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?” we’ll break down the distinctions between dentists and oral surgeons, so you can decide which type of dental professional is right for you. Whether you’re dealing with a pesky cavity or a more serious oral health issue, this guide will help you navigate the world of dental care like a pro. So please sit back, relax, and dive into the fascinating world of dental medicine!

What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?

While dentists and oral surgeons focus on the health of the mouth and teeth, they have different education, training, and expertise.

Dentists typically complete a four-year undergraduate degree and a four-year Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program. During this time, they learn the basics of dental care, including diagnosing and treating common oral health issues such as cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. They also learn about preventative care, such as teeth cleanings and regular check-ups, using guidelines from authoritative bodies like the American Dental Association.

In contrast, oral surgeons are dentists who have completed additional years of education and training in surgical procedures related to the mouth, jaw, and face. They typically complete a four-year undergraduate degree, a four-year dental program, and then a four to six-year residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery. During their residency, they receive specialized training in various surgical procedures, including tooth extractions, dental implant placement, and jaw reconstruction.

Who to go to? The Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

While dentists can perform many basic oral surgical procedures, such as simple tooth extractions, more complex procedures require the expertise of an oral surgeon. For example, if you need multiple teeth removed or require jaw surgery, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for treatment.

It’s important to note that both dentists and oral surgeons play critical roles in maintaining oral health and preventing serious dental issues. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, while oral surgeons provide specialized care for more complex oral health issues. By understanding the differences between these two professionals, you can make informed decisions about your dental care and ensure that you receive the best possible treatment for your needs.

Oral Surgeons and Dentists: Specialty

Oral surgeons and dentists have different specialties, although they focus on oral health.

Dentists specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and treating issues related to teeth and gums. They can provide routine dental care, such as cleanings, fillings, and extractions, as well as more complex treatments, such as root canals and crowns. They also educate patients on oral hygiene practices and help them maintain healthy teeth and gums.

What Does an Oral Surgeon Surgeon Specialize In?

An oral surgeon, also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions related to the mouth, teeth, jaws, and face. They receive specialized training in various surgical procedures, and their expertise extends beyond the scope of a general dentist. If you want to know more about who performs teeth, mouth, and jaw surgery, this article will provide a broader perspective.

Here are some of the specific areas in which an oral surgeon may specialize:

  1. Tooth Extractions: Oral surgeons are skilled in performing tooth extractions, including removing impacted teeth (such as wisdom teeth) and teeth that are damaged or infected beyond repair.
  2. Dental Implants: If you need to replace missing teeth, an oral surgeon can place dental implants, which are titanium posts surgically placed into the jawbone to support replacement teeth.
  3. Corrective Jaw Surgery: If you have a misaligned jaw causing issues such as difficulty chewing or speaking, an oral surgeon can perform corrective jaw surgery to reposition the jawbone.
  4. Facial Trauma: An oral surgeon can treat the damage if you have suffered a facial injury, such as a broken jaw or fractured cheekbone.
  5. Oral Cancer: Oral surgeons can perform biopsies and surgery to remove tumors and treat mouth, tongue, and throat cancer.

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons provides guidelines and standards for these procedures.

Oral Surgeon vs Dentist for Extractions

Both oral surgeons and dentists are trained to perform extractions, but there are some differences in their approach and the types of cases they may handle.

Dentists can perform routine extractions, such as removing teeth that are decayed, damaged, or causing crowding in the mouth. They can also extract wisdom teeth in some instances, such as if they are fully erupted and unaffected.

On the other hand, oral surgeons are trained to handle more complex extractions, such as impacted wisdom teeth, teeth with curved or long roots, or teeth in difficult-to-reach locations in the mouth. They can also provide sedation or anesthesia during the procedure to help ensure patient comfort.

Can I Go Straight to an Oral Surgeon?

In most cases, you will need a referral from a dentist or physician to see an oral surgeon. This is because oral surgeons typically provide specialized care for more complex oral health issues that require surgery or advanced treatments beyond the scope of a general dentist.

Are Oral Surgeons More Expensive Than Dentists

The cost of dental procedures can vary depending on several factors, including the location, the complexity of the procedure, and the dental professional performing the procedure. As such, it’s challenging to make a general statement about whether oral surgeons are more expensive than dentists.

In general, oral surgery procedures may be more expensive than routine dental procedures, such as cleanings and fillings, due to the complexity of the surgery and the specialized training required of oral surgeons. However, this is not always the case. For example, a simple tooth extraction performed by a general dentist may cost less than a more complex extraction performed by an oral surgeon.

It’s important to remember that dental insurance may cover a portion of the cost of dental procedures, and many dental practices offer payment plans or financing options to help make dental care more affordable. Additionally, preventive care, such as regular dental check-ups and cleanings, can help prevent more serious dental issues and be more cost-effective in the long run.

Dentist vs Oral Surgeon Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for dentists in the United States was $165,840 as of May 2020. The lowest 10 percent of dentists earned less than $77,720, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for oral and maxillofacial surgeons was $285,660 as of May 2020. The lowest 10 percent of oral surgeons earned less than $161,670, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $442,330.

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