A program that focuses on the advanced study of the diagnosis and intrusive and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects of the oral and maxillofacial regions, including functional and aesthetic aspects. Includes instruction in pharmacology, analgesia, anesthesia, anxiety control, surgical procedures and techniques, surgical instrumentation, exodontia, oral diseases and malfunctions, soft and hard tissue pathology, dentoalveolar surgery, infection management, and prosthetic implantation.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dentistry Careers

A program that focuses on the advanced study of the diagnosis and intrusive and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects of the oral and maxillofacial regions, including functional and aesthetic aspects. Includes instruction in pharmacology, analgesia, anesthesia, anxiety control, surgical procedures and techniques, surgical instrumentation, exodontia, oral diseases and malfunctions, soft and hard tissue pathology, dentoalveolar surgery, infection management, and prosthetic implantation.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the head and neck. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (www.aaoms.org) is the governing body for the specialty. Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the most broad-ranging, yet specific in its procedures and domain, among the dental specialties. In some, but not all, residency training programs, in order to receive certification, residents in oral and maxillofacial surgery are required to be graduates of both medical and dental schools affiliated with the program. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specifically well-qualified in dental implant surgery, wisdom tooth management and extraction, and the treatment and surgical reconstruction of facial trauma, such as broken facial bones, facial lacerations, or broken eye sockets.

Oral surgeons, some with still additional advanced medical specialty training in plastic surgery, perform facial cosmetic surgical reconstructions, such as rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, and many others. Oral surgeons are also called upon to perform orthognathic (jaw) advancements to correct an over- or under-bite; cleft lip and cleft palate surgical reconstructions; surgical reconstruction of congenital craniofacial malformations; orthodontic oral surgery to improve the alignment of the jaw during or prior to orthodontic procedures, as in the placement of orthodontic braces; endodontic microsurgery; and surgical bone or soft-tissue grafting to ensure jawbone support before dental implant placement or other prosthetic tooth replacement.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also perform complicated soft-tissue reconstructive procedures, such as an airway correction (called an uvulopalatoplasty) for people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea; soft tissue surgeries in the lip, tongue, gum, palate, or airway; treatments to alleviate temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction and relieve facial pain; and dentoalveolar surgery, in a range of tissue repair, shaping, and grafting procedures. Of course, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are a definitive diagnostic source, for the diagnosis and treatment of any chronic or acute disease or infection in the head and neck region, and for cancer diagnosis and surgical removal of head, neck, throat, and oral cancers, and then the reconstruction and repair of the remaining head and neck anatomy, guiding the construction and placement of any prosthetic devices. Finally, and again deriving from the oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s pivotal position as a facial trauma reconstructive surgeon, the OMS is the dental emergency specialist, for knocked-out or broken teeth, jaws, noses, eye sockets, or cheeks.

Refer to the American Dental Association list of accredited oral and maxillofacial surgery programs in the United States or Canada to research the oral and maxillofacial surgery programs of your choice.  Be aware that because many of these programs offer a medical doctor (MD) degree in oral and maxillofacial surgery, acceptance into these programs requires participation in the medical school selection process known as Match.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the annual salary of oral and maxillofacial surgeons as above the maximum cited by the BLS.

The Student Doctor Network, in their online applicant forum conversations, offer several intriguing lists of programs ranked in a host of ways (best six-year medical school program with MD residency, best four-year non-MD residency program) and a robust discussion of what exactly does ‘best’ mean anyway, when you’re training in a complicated surgical specialty like this?  Repeatedly in the threads one hears the extremely practical advice of those who have already chosen and are now out there practicing: chose your oral/maxillofacial surgery residency based on what you want to do after you get all the education, clinical training, and the degrees and get on with your life. And be honest with yourself about your capabilities and expectations, and be realistic.