How is an OMS Different than a Dentist?
For many people, a loose tooth, tooth pain or even general oral discomfort might bring back memories of anxiety-inducing visits to the dentist. It also can be difficult to find time to visit a dentist, let alone schedule time to see a specialist. It is important to know that when unexpected oral health issues arise, you may benefit more from a visit to a nearby oral and maxillofacial surgeon than your general dentist.
When to Visit the Dentist
Regular visits to the dentist are essential for maintaining oral health, and patients should visit a dentist for:
- Routine teeth cleanings and checkups to assess the risk of tooth decay and gum disease
- Repairs to damaged teeth (fillings, onlays and crowns)
- Root canals
When it comes to more complicated procedures such as removing wisdom teeth and placing dental implants, a patient should visit an OMS.
When to Visit an OMS
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the surgical specialists of the dental profession, undergoing extensive training that begins with dental school and continues with at least four years of hospital-based surgical residency. An OMS is truly an expert in face, mouth and jaw surgery.
Procedures performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons include:
- Dental implants
- Wisdom teeth management and extraction
- Tooth extractions
- TMJ and facial pain
- Facial cosmetic surgery
- Corrective jaw surgery
- Facial injury and trauma surgery
- Oral, head and neck pathology
- Cleft lip / palate and craniofacial surgery
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Common oral surgeries (e.g., frenectomy, expose and bond, bone grafting)
- Administration of anesthesia
While there is an overlap in their respective areas of care, it should be noted that the surgical and anesthesia scope of OMSs is beyond that of dentists. Put simply, when patients need attention beyond simple maintenance and repair, it may be time to visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Still Unsure of Whether to Visit a Dentist or an OMS?
Patients who are simply experiencing pain or discomfort in their mouth may be unsure of whether oral surgery is necessary. When in doubt, contact an OMS. OMS office staff will be able to answer whether a referral is needed for a consultation and can guide patients in their steps toward diagnosis and treatment.
Last updated April 2019
The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is provided to help you communicate effectively when you seek the advice of your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.