What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?
Dentists and oral surgeons both play critical roles in ensuring patients’ oral health, but they are two separate disciplines. General dentists have a primarily focus on preventative care, such as teeth cleaning, X-rays, and comprehensive oral screenings, and restore missing and decayed or chipped teeth. Oral surgery is unique in that it incorporates the art and science of both dentistry and medicine. As such, oral surgeons have a distinctive combination of knowledge and skills that enables them to diagnose and treat a number of surgical conditions – from the removal of wisdom teeth, placement of dental implants and bone grafting, to management of complex facial trauma and sleep apnea. To become specialized in a particular area requires time and dedication and oral surgery is no different.
Education and Training
Following four years of dental school, oral surgeons participate in a four or six-year, hospital-based residency program focused on the complexity of facial structures, specifically the mouth and jaw. All residents undergo training in the administration of anesthesia, including intravenous (IV) sedation, nitrous oxide and general anesthesia, with six-year residency programs incorporating a medical degree. After receiving their degree, oral surgeons can elect to undergo an intense examination by the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) to become board-certified. This process requires submission of cases that demonstrate a broad area of surgical expertise, an intensive written exam, and a lengthy oral exam. Doctors Stewart and Michael are both Diplomates of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Maintaining board certification is a career-long process. Beyond the initial certification, diplomates must adhere to a certification maintenance process that ensures their commitment to lifelong learning, practicing in a safe and contemporary manner, and keeping current with the latest knowledge and skills. This includes maintaining active and unrestricted state licensure and continuous hospital privileges. Both Doctors Stewart and Michael maintain privileges at Medical City Plano, a Level I Trauma Center located in Plano, Texas.
Areas of Focus
General dentists primarily focus on preventative care; however, many also help to address basic oral issues such as gum disease and cavities, and may offer cosmetic procedures, like teeth whitening and veneers. When a patient requires more complex care, dentists often refer them to an oral surgeon. With their extensive medical, dental and surgical training, oral surgeons are experts on recognizing and treating issues related to the face, oral cavity, jaw, and teeth.
Patients often see oral surgeons for complex issues, including:
- Teeth extractions
- Dental implant placement
- Removal of oral or jaw tumors
- Oral and face biopsy
- Jaw joint disorders
- General facial pain
- Bone grafting
- Salivary gland disorders
- Facial trauma and reconstruction
- Orthognathic Surgery
Beyond Doctors Stewart and Michael’s training and combined 50 years of experience, patients can feel confident knowing that the entire Texas Oral Surgery Group team across our four offices is as committed to patient care today as when we opened over 30 years ago. We provide a full range of oral surgery services and invite you to contact any of our locations (Denton, Plano, Decatur, Gainesville ) if we can be of further assistance.
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