OMS or Dentist?
How is an OMS Different than a Dentist?
For many people, a loose tooth, tooth pain or even general oral discomfort might bring back memories of anxiety-inducing visits to the dentist. It also can be difficult to find time to visit a dentist, let alone schedule time to see a specialist. It is important to know that when unexpected oral health issues arise, you may benefit more from a visit to a nearby oral and maxillofacial surgeon than your general dentist. An OMS is a dental specialist who completes at least four years of a hospital-based residency after dental school. During this time, an OMS resident gains vast experience treating patients with problems involving the teeth, jaws, oral cavity and associated facial structures. This includes advanced training alongside medical residents in anesthesia, general surgery, surgical specialties and internal medicine. Some OMSs also complete medical school as part of their training.
When to Visit the Dentist
Regular visits to the dentist are essential for maintaining oral health, and patients should visit a dentist for:
- Routine teeth cleanings and checkups to assess the risk of tooth decay and gum disease
- Repairs to damaged teeth (fillings, onlays and crowns)
- Root canals
When to Visit an OMS
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the surgical specialists of the dental profession, undergoing extensive training that begins with dental school and continues with at least four years of hospital-based surgical residency. An OMS is truly an expert in face, mouth and jaw surgery.
Procedures performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons include:
- Dental implants
- Wisdom teeth management and extraction
- Tooth extractions
- TMJ and facial pain
- Facial cosmetic surgery
- Corrective jaw surgery
- Facial injury and trauma surgery
- Oral, head and neck pathology
- Cleft lip / palate and craniofacial surgery
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Extractions and dentoalveolar surgery
- Surgery to assist orthodontics
- Oral soft-tissue surgery
- Administration of anesthesia
While there is an overlap in their respective areas of care, it should be noted that the surgical and anesthesia scope of OMSs is beyond that of dentists. Put simply, when patients need attention beyond simple maintenance and repair, it may be time to visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Still Unsure of Whether to Visit a Dentist or an OMS?
Patients who are simply experiencing pain or discomfort in their mouth may be unsure of whether oral surgery is necessary. When in doubt, contact an OMS. OMS office staff will be able to answer whether a referral is needed for a consultation and can guide patients in their steps toward diagnosis and treatment.