Maxillofacial Surgery - What It Is and When You Need It
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Table of Contents
- When Do You Need Maxillofacial Surgery?
- What Conditions Do Maxillofacial Surgeons Treat?
- Maxillofacial Surgeon vs. Oral Surgeon
- How to Find a Surgeon
When do you Need Maxillofacial Surgery?
You may need to see a maxillofacial surgeon if your facial or jaw problem requires complex surgery. Your dentist or orthodontist may refer you to this specialist if your condition is beyond their scope of training and certification.
Left untreated any of these issues can adversely impact your quality of life and overall health. Reasons for maxillofacial surgery include:
- To prepare your mouth and jaws for dental implant surgery.
- To ease chronic pain associated with jaw/joint fractures.
- To restore your jaw or teeth function, such as chewing, speaking, and swallowing.
- To correct skeletal deformities affecting your facial/oral functions and appearance.
- Treating babies born with facial tissue and bone complications, including deformities.
Before undergoing any surgical procedure on your face or jaws, you’ll be given a local or general anesthesia.
What Conditions Does a Maxillofacial Surgeon Treat?
A maxillofacial surgeon can treat the following facial disorders and injuries:
Jaw Joint Damage and Pain
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Misaligned Jaw and Teeth
Deformed Facial Bones
Cleft Lip and Palate
Jaw and Facial Bone Reconstruction
Maxillofacial Surgeon vs. Oral Surgeon: What's the Difference?
Both a maxillofacial surgeon and oral surgeon are dentists with specialist training beyond a dentistry degree. The difference is that a maxillofacial surgeon has more in-depth knowledge and training in resolving facial hard-tissue problems.
Maxillofacial Surgeon Qualifications
The first key academic qualification for a maxillofacial or oral surgeon is an accredited Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Next, they must have at least a four-year course in dentistry.
Then, they can follow one of the two available training pathways in oral and maxillofacial surgery:
- Route 1: A four-year course that includes training in medical topics and anesthesia applications.
- Route 2: A six-year course, including two years for a medical degree, about six months of anesthesia education, and two years of general surgery residency.
After certification by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, a surgeon can pursue specialist studies in areas such as:
- Cosmetic surgery
- Pediatric craniofacial surgery
- Head and neck surgery
- Reconstructive microvascular surgery
- Bone grafting
- Removal of wisdom teeth
- Dental implants
- Soft-tissue grafts
- Tooth removals
How to Find a Maxillofacial Surgeon
Maxillofacial surgeons operate in local clinics and hospitals, just like other dentists. Your dentist may refer you to one if you have a broken jaw or other dental issues that require complicated surgery.
You can also search for a certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon online.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. (2021). National Health Service.
OMS Procedures. (2021). American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Training Pathways in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Across the Globe—A Mini Review. (September 2017). Journal of Maxillofacial & Oral Surgery.
Oral Surgery. Academy of Oral Surgery.
Find a Surgeon. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.