Dentists learn to remove teeth in dental school the same way physicians learn how to cast a broken bone in medical school. However as with broken bones, the difficulty, complexity and risk of the procedure varies; often requiring specialty training in order to provide the most effective, safe, and comfortable treatment.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who receive 4 to 6 years of additional medical and surgical training beyond dental school in order to specialize in surgical procedures related to teeth, jaw, and face and to administer general anesthesia. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus on:
Dentists may perform any treatment they believe necessary that falls within scope of the state’s dental practice act, including tooth removal. Many dentists are able to perform straightforward tooth removal without difficulty. However, occasions may arise when removal of an impacted or erupted tooth is difficult or complicated. It is in the patient’s best interest to have these procedures performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with proper training, as this ensures the best outcome for the patient.
If a dentist without appropriate training performs difficult or complicated tooth removal, patients may have increased risk of infection, dry socket, nerve injury, a lengthy and unpleasant procedure, and possibly additional surgery needed to produce complete healing. (Some dental practices limit their procedures to tooth removal only and patients may not be aware that the practitioner is not a formally trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The Utah Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons understands “Wisdom Teeth Only” and “Simply Wisdomteeth” to be examples of this type of practice.) If complications occur during tooth removal, the patient is often referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In such cases, the patient has often experienced considerable stress and discomfort that likely would have been avoided if a properly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon had been consulted originally. In most cases, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can perform complicated or difficult tooth removal in a few minutes. A properly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon typically can provide an anesthetic and remove four impacted wisdom teeth in 30 minutes or less.
Many people are unaware that as dental professionals, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are often providers for the same dental insurance as the family dentist. This means that the cost of specialty care provided by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is comparable to the cost of care rendered by the family dentist. Therefore the perception that specialty care is more costly is often inaccurate.
The Utah Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons encourage patients to consult with their current dental provider about the complexity, risk, and ease of proposed surgical treatment and when appropriate, request referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
For more information, please speak with an oral surgeon in your area.