Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Oral and maxillofacial surgery includes tooth extraction, gum surgery and other procedures of the mouth and teeth. Learn about job duties, degree requirements, education prerequisites and professional licensing.

Is Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery For Me?

Career Details

Oral and maxillofacial surgery focuses on procedures involving the neck, jaw and lower cranium. Though this specialty involves surgical rotations, the field is still considered one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Maxillofacial surgery is involved with many of the functional and aesthetic aspects of the mouth, from reconstructive surgery to the removal of impacted teeth or tumors. As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you may responsible for diagnosing and treating patients with injuries or diseases of the teeth, mouth, jaw or neck, as well as performing surgical procedures to correct or improve these conditions.

Employment Information

If you're thinking about becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you should expect good job prospects over the next several years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for all dentists is expected to increase by 16% from 2012-2022, which is faster than average (www.bls.gov). During this time, job growth may be fueled by a growing elderly population and an increase in the number of people with dental benefits. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, as of May 2013, was $218,960.

How Can I Work in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?

Education

Training to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon may require twelve or more years of postsecondary education. After earning a bachelor's degree and taking the Dental Admissions Test, you can apply for enrollment in a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) program. Additional admissions requirements may include undergraduate credits in specific subjects, like organic chemistry and lab-based biology.

D.D.S. programs usually take four years to complete and cover topics like tooth restoration, dental materials, treatment plans, oral surgery techniques and prosthodontics; clinical experience is a major component of most programs. After earning your D.D.S., you can apply to a residency program for specialized training in oral and maxillofacial surgery. These programs often require four years of study and include multiple clinical rotations as well.

Licensing

In order to work as a dentist, you need to obtain state licensure by taking the National Board Dental Examinations and a practical skills test. If you complete a residency program, you can also apply for state licensure in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

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