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What is an OMS?

An OMS – also known as oral and maxillofacial surgeon – is the surgical expert of the dental profession. OMSs’ extensive education and training, surgical expertise and understanding of esthetics and function qualify them to treat diseases, defects, injuries and esthetic aspects of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. 

The first time many people interact with an OMS is to develop a plan for wisdom teeth management, but this is just one aspect of the broad scope of an OMS practice.

Oral Surgeon vs. OMS

The phrase “oral surgeon” may be a familiar one, but the full name of this specialist is oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS). While dentists can perform minor oral surgeries, they are not oral surgeons (or oral and maxillofacial surgeons). 

Following dental school, an OMS completes a minimum of four to six additional years of surgical training in a hospital-based residency program. This makes an OMS the true surgical specialist of the dental field, able to perform advanced surgeries that can encompass the entire maxillofacial region.

What Does an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Do? 

During their residency program, OMSs train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology. They spend time in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), plastic surgery, emergency medicine and other specialty areas. Some oral and maxillofacial surgeons even earn an additional graduate or medical degree.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons train extensively with anesthesiologists for your safety and comfort. No other medical or dental specialty requires this training, which makes an OMS qualified to administer sedation and general anesthesia.

The result of such extensive training is a surgeon who is prepared to:

  • Manage diseases of the teeth and their surrounding tissues.
  • Extract infected, impacted or diseased teeth.
  • Place dental implants.
  • Perform corrective jaw surgery to reconstruct inadequate structures.
  • Treat facial trauma, including lacerations and other facial injuries.
  • Diagnose and surgically treat cancers of the head, neck and mouth.
  • Perform cleft lip / palate surgery.
  • Serve as a member of the sleep team to help treat obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Treat TMJ disorders and facial pain.
  • Perform facial cosmetic procedures.

Do I Need an OMS?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon can handle medical and dental issues ranging from a simple tooth extraction to extensive facial reconstruction and treatment of oral cancer. Find an OMS near you to learn more about how this doctor can help you improve and maintain good oral health.

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Last updated July 2023

The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is provided to help you communicate effectively when you seek the advice of your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Photos and videos are for illustration purposes only and are not indicative to what a patient may experience.