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What is a Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon?
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a specialist in the exploration, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of problems that affect the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. They’re actually dental specialists in the many conditions, defects, injuries and aesthetic aspects of the area, having had extra training to address complex dental and medical issues. And they often work alongside orthodontists, oncologists, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and ear, nose and throat surgeons.
Your dentist might refer you directly to an oral maxillofacial expert when you’ve suffered from dental or facial trauma, have complex issues with your wisdom teeth, need a tricky extraction, or want to correct congenital growth defects. The same goes if your medical history is complicated.
When to see a Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon?
This discipline involves the surgical and non-surgical management of conditions of the hard and soft tissues of the face, jaws and neck. You might see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon if your child is born with or develops skull or face deformities like a cleft lip or cleft palate. Young people are often referred thanks to injuries and accidents, and older people for oral cancers and skin tumours. You might even see this type of surgeon for non-surgical reasons, for example to manage infections, facial pain, or oral mucosal disease.
What conditions does a Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon treat?
An oral and maxillofacial specialist deals with a broad range of different conditions, including:
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- Tooth and bone loss
- Facial trauma, injury and pain
- Sleep apnoea
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders)
- Jaw joint disorders
- Secondary cleft lip and palate deformities
- Surgery for medically compromised patients
- Congenital jaw defects
- Dentoalveolar surgery
- Oral medicine
- Oral and facial cancers
- Treatment of neck lumps
- Salivary gland diseases
- Salivary gland obstruction
What subspecialties are included under Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery?
The main subspecialties are head and neck cancer, craniofacial deformity and orthognathic surgery, salivary gland surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery. Plus oral medicine, dentoalveolar surgery, aesthetic facial surgery, jaw joint issues, facial pain, facial skin surgery, and finally roles in academic surgery as a lecturer or professor.