Oral Surgeon Job Description

The Oral Surgeon Job Description: Oral maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who treat conditions, defects, injuries, and esthetic aspects of the mouth, teeth, jaws, and face. Their training includes a four-year graduate degree in dentistry and the completion of a minimum four-year hospital surgical residency program.

Oral maxillofacial surgeons care for patients who experience such conditions as problem wisdom teeth, facial pain, and misaligned jaws. They treat accident victims suffering facial injuries, offer reconstructive and dental implant surgery, and care for patients with tumors and cysts of the jaws and functional and esthetic conditions of the maxillofacial areas.

The oral surgeon job description includes specialized knowledge in pain control and advanced training in anesthesia. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon is able to provide quality care with maximum patient comfort and safety in the office setting.

Some of the services offered by the Oral maxillofacial Surgeon are:

Removal of Diseased and Impacted Teeth, and Anesthesia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons remove impacted, damaged, and non-restorable teeth. They also provide sophisticated, safe, and effective anesthesia services in their office including intravenous (IV) sedation and general anesthesia.

Dental Implants
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons, in close collaboration with restorative dentists, help plan and then place implants used to replace missing teeth. They can also reconstruct bone in places needing bone for implant placement and modify gingival (gum) tissue surrounding implants when necessary to make teeth placed on implants look even more natural.

Facial Trauma
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons care for facial injuries by repairing routine and complex facial skin lacerations (cuts), setting fractured jaw and facial bones, reconnecting severed nerves and ducts, and treating other injuries. These procedures include care of oral tissues, the jaws, cheek and nasal bones, the forehead, and eye sockets.

Pathologic Conditions
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons manage patients with benign and malignant cysts and tumors of the oral and facial regions. Severe infections of the oral cavity, salivary glands, jaws, and neck are also treated.

Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery
Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons correct jaw, facial bone and facial soft tissue problems left as the result of previous trauma or removal of pathology. This surgery to restore form and function often includes moving skin, bone, nerves, and other tissues from other parts of the body to reconstruct the jaws and face. These same skills are also used when oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform cosmetic procedures for improvement of problems due to unwanted facial features or aging.

Facial Pain Including Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Maxillofacial Surgeons possess skills in the diagnosis and treatment of facial pain disorders including those due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.

Correction of Dento-facial (Bite) Deformities and Birth Defects
usually in conjunction with an orthodontist, surgically reconstruct and realign the upper and lower jaws into proper dental and facial relationships to provide improved biting function and facial appearance. They also surgically correct birth defects of the face and skull including cleft lip and palate

Working Conditions

Working conditions and hours are variable. Oral Maxillary Surgeons are often on call for all hours of the day. The usual work setting is in a hospital or outpatient clinic. In extreme cases they can work over 80 hours per week. The work environment is indoors with temperatures in the operating room kept cool.

Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be an Oral Surgeon

Dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level predental education, regardless of the major chosen. However, most dental students have at least a bachelor’s degree. Predental education emphasizes coursework in science, and many applicants to dental school major in a science such as biology or chemistry. 

While other applicants major in another subject and take many science courses as well. A few applicants are accepted to dental school after 2 or 3 years of college and complete their bachelor’s degree while attending dental school.

Following graduation from dental school, OMSs complete a dental, medical, and surgical postdoctoral program spanning a minimum of 4 years. Emphasis in OMS training is placed on the oral and facial area by spending a minimum of 30 months concentrating specifically on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of problems of the oral and maxillofacial region.

In addition to their OMS training, whether residents are in an M.D. integrated or a single-degree-training program, all residents are required to complete the same surgical training, including the core surgical year.  

Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed oral and maxillofacial surgeon is:
1) Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school of oral and maxillofacial surgeon medicine
2) Pass a national exam
3) Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in.

Significant Points

oral maxillofacial surgeons must be licensed, requiring 2 to 4 years of undergraduate education, completion of a 4-year dental college course, 4 years in a surgical residency and passing scores on National and State examinations.

As a result of the longer educational requirements oral and maxillofacial surgeons can expect to graduate with a significant amount of education related debt such as student loans.

Employment is expected to increase faster than average as a result of shortages in various specialty occupations

Job prospects should be good; establishing a new practice will be easiest in areas with a low concentration of oral maxillofacial surgeons

As with other types of independent practice, earnings for oral and maxillofacial surgeons are relatively low in the beginning, but increase as the practice grows.

The management of a surgical practice requires the same skills as for a small business; accounts receivable, hiring employees, and business overhead are just a few of the many details that will have to be dealt with.

Advancement - chances for promotion

Unless they work for a major corporation or form a group practice promotions and advancement will be limited. Increases in salary will come from raising their fees and/or passing on rising costs to the consumer. For those who are employed advancement will vary depending on the size of the organization.