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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

All your Questions Answered

We get lots of questions regarding what an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon does, what are their qualifications, how are they different from general dentistry. Here are all your questions answered.

1. What is Oral and Maxillofacial surgery?

'Oral' clearly means mouth  and Maxillofacial is derived from the words 'maxilla' and 'facial'. 'Maxilla' is the upper jaw bone of the face. Oral and Maxillofacial surgery focuses  on most areas of the face (generally to the hairline) down to the neck area.  Maxillofacial surgery can include: Orbital floor (eye) repairs, mandible (lower jaw) repairs, tempero-mandibular jaw pain and disfunction, (TMJ), oral and facial cancers, trauma to the face, oral and neck cancers, all manners of tooth concerns.

2. What are the qualifications of an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

Very few Medical Specialists around the world are required to have Dual Qualification: or rather, two specialised degrees. In Australia, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon has a Medical Degree, a Dental Degree, and additional Specialised Surgical Program Training followed by a Fellowship training position (specialising again in a refined area) . In total : the study involved amounts to approximately fifteen years to become fully qualified.

Maxillofacial surgeons are primarily surgeons, and most work in public hospitals as surgeons, working in areas of trauma and oncology.

3. How are Maxillofacial Surgeons different from dentists?

Aside from professional academic qualifications, maxillofacial surgeons are exposed to far more complicated surgery, and are comfortable treating individuals with complex medical concerns. The combination of medicine, surgery and dentistry, allows a Maxillofacial Surgeon to truly understand all mechanisms of the face, jaw and neck. They understand all the nerve and muscular innovations, and are able to perceive a problem and solution in a more wholistic way. Maxillofacial surgeons work with your dentist to ensure you have the best possible health outcomes.  Maxillofacial surgeons are also able to access theatres in hospitals with ease, and have operating lists where they can provide a general anaesthetic to patients for procedures.

4. Can a dentist do surgery like an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

There are many dentists who have had many years of experience and often can carry out some oral surgery. A good practitioner, whatever their qualification, knows that the comfort and positive outcomes for a patient are more important than the financial benefits paid for the service.  Patients tell us  they change dentists because the dentist carried out surgery that took a large amount of time, was half completed or was overly painful. A dentist should never have to 'climb on the chair' to lever a tooth out. This is poor practice and means they did not 'read the surgical situation' correctly prior to surgery. When practitioners practice 'beyond their scope', it damages the patients confidence and their willingness to maintain their dental health. 

We want to work WITH our dental referrers. Dentists are valuable to patients and ideally work symbiotically with us, not unilaterally.

5. What can I expect from an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

A multidiscipline approach. We work with GP's, ENT surgeons, dentists, plastic surgeons, other dental specialists and medical specialists to help work through medical and dental concerns to the best of our ability.

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