Dr Warren's Blog

A blog about Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

What exactly does an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon do?

This is a question that I am asked on almost a daily basis.  I generally answer this with a description of all of the things that I can do.  The reaction generally follows with “you can do that”!  I practice in a specialty that very few people truly understand.

This was no more evident than last week.  I was evaluating someone for a dental implant that we had planned.  As we were discussing the surgical instructions, she told me that she did not like the way that her earlobes looked and wondered if there was anything that could be done to fix this.  I was pleasantly suprised by her question and then proceeded to show her how we could fix this.  Her next question was “can we do this at the same time that I have my dental implant placed?”  I explained that this was definitely possible and would actually be to her benefit since she was already going to have IV sedation for her implant placement.  This would allow her to have both procedures done at the same time while only having to undergo one anesthetic.

She was extremely happy about this and scheduled surgery for the next morning.  She left with a future tooth replacement and a younger set of ears.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is a specialty of dentistry, but the typical oral surgeon functions more like a hybrid between medicine and dentistry.  Having our roots in dentistry is what makes Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons so technically adept at surgery.  The hand eye coordination required to perform quality dentistry lends itself well to the practice of surgery.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery requires a minimum of 4 additional years of training in both medicine and surgery, while a number of us also complete medical school to become dual-degreed in both dentistry and medicine.  This is not a new thing and encompasses approximately 40% of the current residency training.

From its roots in dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery addresses numerous dental and oral procedures such as the removal of impacted teeth, placement of dental implants,  intraoral bone grafting, and removal of pathology in the oral cavity.  But the practice of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is not limited to the oral cavity.

Facial cosmetic surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, orthognathic (corrective jaw) surgery, facial trauma and reconstructive surgery and head and neck cancer surgery can and do fall within the scope of the practicing Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.

Some medical specialties try to claim that they are the only ones qualified to perform some of these types of surgeries.  I believe that this could not be farther from the truth, and misleads the public.  The better question to ask your surgeon is “what experience and training do you have in these areas?”  What you will likely find is that there is a significant amount of crossover between surgical subspecialties.

I am proud of the fact that I am a dentist first.  My desire entering college was to pursue a career in dentistry.  After being exposed to the practice of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, I immediately knew that this is what I was meant to do.

My training has allowed me to accomplish things far beyond the scope of dentistry and each day I am challenged to learn new things.  This is what makes it fun.  Everytime that I think I have seen it all, I am suprised with something new.

So the next time that your dentist or physician refers you to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, rest assured that you are in able hands.

To learn more about Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery or Dr. Warren visit www.brazossurgery.com

Scott Warren, DDS, M.D.

Heart of the Brazos Oral and Facial Surgery

103 Burnett Court

Waco, Texas  76712

254-399-9925

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June 28, 2009 - Posted by | Dental Implants | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Here is a link to more information about the genetics of Oral Facial Clefts that was prepared by our genetic counselor and which has links to some useful resources for those dealing with this condition: http://www.accessdna.com/condition/Oral_Facial_Clefts/91. There is also a phone number listed if you need to speak to a genetic counselor by phone. I hope it helps. Thanks, AccessDNA

    Comment by shashank | January 31, 2010 | Reply


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