An oral surgeon is a specialty within the field of dentistry. Just like a pediatric dentist has had advanced training to treat the teeth of children, and a periodontist has a focus on gum disease, the oral surgeon (known formally as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon) has had advanced training and experience performing surgeries such as complicated tooth extraction (including wisdom teeth), dental implant placement, jaw repair, facial bone repair, cyst and tumor removal of the jaws, jaw realignment to correct bite issues, cosmetic and TMJ issues.
Although all dentists, no matter the field of specialty, have spent somewhere between seven to eight years in college and dental school to earn their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), which allows them to practice general dentistry, the oral surgeon has spent another four to six years of training in a hospital surgical environment. And then, in practice, the oral surgeon will forgo the other areas of dentistry to focus upon his/her scope of specialty training and strictly perform dental surgical operations. That means that while a general dentist may perform a tooth extraction a few times a year, the oral surgeon has daily practice.
So, when you are considering a tooth extraction, your best bet for success will be with an oral surgeon. Your regular dentist may even refer you to an oral surgeon, especially if the extraction is somewhat complex, or if you have any sort of anxiety undergoing the procedure. An oral surgeon also has more experience using general anesthetics, which means that he/she can put you completely under before the operation–something a general practitioner may not be qualified to do. The oral surgeon will also have the experience to handle any complications, difficulties or outright emergencies that may crop up.
If you’d like more information on the differences between a general dentist and an oral surgeon, call Drs. McAninch and Kikenand and our helpful team at Ocean Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Phone: 805-735-3665, or come by our office in Santa Barbara, California.