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Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

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Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons Vs General Dentists

Posted on 12/15/2023 by Weo Admin
Woman smiling after dental implant appointment at Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Allentown, PAYour regular dentist will treat common oral issues, including cavities and bad breath, but if you require surgical intervention, they will refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS), who is more qualified to handle the procedure. While the OMS and dentist are used interchangeably in some cases, they are different, as we will explain below.

Training and Education

The training and education of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is similar to that of a general dentist. Both parties will start with a relevant bachelors degree and then enroll in a dental school for four years. At this point, the general dentist will take a licensure exam and can start practicing. On the other hand, oral surgeons must complete a surgical residency lasting up to six years and pass the exam to be board-certified. Therefore, an oral surgeon has dental surgeon training plus four to six years of specialization.

Area of Focus

Oral and general dental surgeons have different focus areas but interact to ensure overall patient health. The general dentist offers primary care for oral health, including filling cavities, teeth cleanings, and simple procedures like crowns, dentures, and bridges.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform complex procedures, including extracting impacted wisdom teeth, soft tissue biopsies, and jaw realignment. Some OMSs will also treat complex sleeping and breathing issues involving removing soft tissue from the oropharynx and administering all levels of anesthesia during the procedure.


Dental work involving surgery requires the intervention of an oral surgeon, and your dentist will often make this recommendation in complex oral situations. Your dentist will also refer you to an oral surgeon if you have a high chance of complications during your surgery or need a complex surgery such as jaw realignment or repair of soft tissues or jawbone.


A dentist and an oral surgeon are in the same profession, but their functions differ. Therefore, choosing one over the other boils down to the treatment you need, with complex issues necessitating an OMS. However, if you are uncertain whether to contact a dentist or surgeon, schedule your appointment with a dentist first, and they will refer you to the surgeon if needed.

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