Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) is the specialty of dentistry, which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the bone and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. The term “maxillofacial” refers to the areas beyond the mouth, including the hard and soft tissues of the head, face, and neck.
Following graduation from dental school (DDS or DMD), the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMS) completes a postdoctoral surgical program spanning a minimum of 48 months. Emphasis is placed on the oral and maxillofacial area by spending a minimum of 30 months concentrating specifically on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of problems of the oral and maxillofacial region. Some programs offer a medical degree. Both the 4-year programs and the MD integrated programs however, must meet the same standards for surgical training. Training received by residents encompasses rotations to the medical, surgical, and anesthesia services where residents must function at the same level of a resident in the respective services. Because of this specialized education, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are licensed to perform procedures that are also performed by physicians.
Based on their extensive background in maxillofacial surgery which dates back to the Civil War and up through the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam; oral and maxillofacial surgeons were in the forefront in the development of new procedures that expanded their specialty. Their knowledge and skills have enabled them to become proficient in the management of bony and soft tissue reconstruction of the entire maxillofacial skeleton, as well as the management of severe facial trauma. Other major areas in which oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained include:
- In-depth understanding of physical diagnosis, pathophysiology, and clinical medicine
- Pain and anxiety control through the use of general anesthesia/deep sedation. Anesthesia requires in in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology which is provided through extensive clinical training
- Clef lip/palate and craniofacial surgery which includes training in cleft lip and palate surgery and the correction of craniofacial deformities
- A broad range of dentoalveolar surgical procedures which encompass: the diagnosis of oral disease and legions of systemic diseases manifested in the oral cavity, the removal of erupted and impacted wisdom teeth, hard and soft tissue grafts, and the management of infections
- Surgical correction of skeletal deformities of the oral and maxillofacial region, also knows as orthognathic surgery
- The diagnosis and management of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
- Facial cosmetic surgery; procedures such as facelifts, neck lifts, eyelid, brow and forehead procedures, rinoplasty and otoplasty, to correct nose and ear deformities. facial implants to correct or enhance facial contour concerns. Laser and chemical peel procedures to correct aging or sun damaged skin. Use of injectable fillers like Restylane and Juvaderm. Use of Botox and Dysport to control frown lines and undesired muscle activity.
Because oral and maxillofacial surgeons have the unique knowledge of both a dentist and a surgeon, they often perform work that most others cannot. Being a vital part of the health care system, oral and facial surgeons’ specialization allows them to provide their patients with the best care and attention possible.