Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
You can think of the oral and maxillofacial region of your body like the mouth and all its connecting regions. You obviously chew with your jawbone and your teeth. This area is part of the network with your face, head, and neck. When you have oral and maxillofacial surgery, someone operates on your face. The only question is exactly where this happens.
Now that you know where it happens, you can guess the causes for this kind of surgery. The most frequent reason is that you need to replace some teeth. Generally, this happens due to trauma or illness. A punch in the mouth or car wreck might displace your teeth. The surgery would fix or replace the impacted area.
You also might develop a disease in your mouth or its surrounding region. A tumor or cyst could jeopardize your health, especially if any cancerous cells are a part of the infected area. When that happens, you may need part of your jaw removed or reconstructed.
Of course, you could require this sort of surgery for simpler reasons. The hinge of your jaw might not function right. If so, temporomandibular joint surgery (TJS) will correct the issue. Simple jaw alignment is another possibility. Oral and maxillofacial surgery treats numerous conditions, some of which are more serious than others.
What Do Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Do?
The short answer is that they do most of the treatments and surgeries listed above. A specialist in this type of dentistry has to do a lot more emergency work than others. Many times, a patient suffers a car accident or athletic injury that requires immediate attention. In those instances, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon must treat people in crisis situations.
The job has many other requirements beyond crisis support, though. This kind of specialist must know and treat a range of injuries and illnesses across four major parts of the body: the neck, face, jaw, and mouth. The most frequent surgery is tooth extraction, especially when a person suffers from impacted wisdom teeth. Sometimes, this surgery isn’t an emergency decision but a proactive one to prevent later tooth problems.
Some conditions may require this sort of surgery. People with cleft palates and lips can receive treatment to correct the problem. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will alter the facial structure to fix the physical issue. It’s considered a medical rather than cosmetic surgery, though.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must know how to treat hard and soft tissue issues. A professional must work on sensitive areas like the gums and tough structures like the jawbone and parts of the neck. It’s a demanding job, as the surgeon must understand all dentistry, general medicine, and many forms of surgery.
How Does a Person Become an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?
Since Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery encompasses so many areas of medical skills, it’s a difficult field to enter. A would-be surgeon must finish dental school. Otherwise, they would lack the training to diagnose and treat basic mouth and tooth issues.
After dental school, the surgeon must study for another four years at a minimum, sometimes as many as six years. The doctor needs this additional time to master surgical skills. They also must train in the treatment of head, neck, and jaw injuries. Other than actual anesthesiologists, this field is the only one whose professionals can give all types of sedation as treatment.