What is the difference between an oral surgeon and a dental surgeon?

Answered by Cody Janus

An oral surgeon and a dental surgeon are both professionals in the field of dentistry, but they have different areas of expertise and the types of procedures they perform. The main difference lies in the complexity and scope of the surgeries they are trained to perform.

1. Education and Training:
– Both oral surgeons and dental surgeons undergo four years of dental school to become dentists.
– After dental school, oral surgeons continue their education with an additional four to six years of surgical residency training in a hospital setting. This extensive training includes a focus on anesthesia, general surgery, and advanced surgical techniques.
– Dental surgeons, on the other hand, typically complete additional training through postgraduate programs or continuing education courses to enhance their skills in specific areas of dentistry.

2. Scope of Practice:
– Oral surgeons are specialized in performing complex surgical procedures involving the face, jaw, and oral cavity. They have the expertise to handle more complicated cases such as corrective jaw surgery, facial trauma reconstruction, dental implants, and removing impacted wisdom teeth.
– Dental surgeons, also known as general dentists, are trained to perform a wide range of dental procedures, including routine check-ups, fillings, root canals, and dental extractions. They may also offer some minor oral surgery procedures such as simple tooth extractions or biopsies.

3. Anesthetic Options:
– Due to the nature of their surgeries, oral surgeons have more extensive training and experience in administering anesthesia. They are capable of providing various levels of sedation, including local anesthesia, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), intravenous sedation, and general anesthesia. This allows them to perform complex surgeries comfortably and safely for the patient.
– Dental surgeons typically have more limited options for anesthesia. They mainly use local anesthesia to numb the area being treated. However, they may also offer nitrous oxide sedation for patients who experience anxiety during dental procedures.

4. Referral and Collaboration:
– In cases where a dental surgeon encounters a complex or specialized surgical need, they will refer the patient to an oral surgeon. This ensures that the patient receives the best possible care from a specialist with the necessary expertise and equipment.
– Oral surgeons and dental surgeons often collaborate on cases that require both surgical and restorative dental procedures. For example, if a patient needs dental implants after jaw reconstruction surgery, the oral surgeon would perform the surgery, while the dental surgeon would handle the implant placement and subsequent restorations.

It’s important to note that the terms “oral surgeon” and “dental surgeon” are sometimes used interchangeably, and the specific titles and qualifications can vary between countries. However, the key distinction lies in the additional training and expertise that oral surgeons possess to handle more complex surgical cases.