Do you know the difference between an oral surgeon and a dentist? You’re not alone.
Much like the rest of medicine, dentistry is a vast field and each dental condition requires a specific type of dental professional.
And to choose the right oral health care provider, you need to understand what each specialization does.
If you have oral health care concerns, you may be wondering whether you should contact an oral surgeon or a general dentist. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are unique differences. This post will outline them to ensure you receive appropriate treatment for your particular oral health condition.
What Is the Difference Between a General Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?
Confused about whether you should choose a general dentist or an oral surgeon? Keep reading to find out more about what each occupation entails.
What does a general dentist do?
General dentists offer primary dental care for all patients and perform routine oral health care procedures that are both restorative and preventive. They often provide family dental care, including specialized care or regular cleanings. Additionally, they help keep track of their patient’s overall oral health and ensure problems are detected and treated before becoming worse.
For preventive maintenance, general dentists perform procedures that keep the gums, teeth, tongue and mouth healthy. They also perform fluoride treatments and routine examinations.
When preventive measures aren’t enough, they will perform various restorative procedures too. This covers procedures that are aimed at repairing damage caused due to disease, trauma, or tooth decay, among other issues that may be present in or around the mouth. These include fillings, root canals, and crowns.
Dentists also encourage their patients to practice good dental care habits such as flossing, brushing and getting teeth cleanings which can prevent gum disease and cavities.
What are the benefits of going to a dentist?
Let’s examine why you should go to a general dentist.
1. Eliminate Dental Anxiety
Many people suffer dental anxiety or phobias which often result in them either avoiding or delaying necessary treatments. By visiting a general dentist for regular checkups, you can overcome this anxiety and see there is nothing to worry about.
Children are most prone to developing dental anxiety. If they see that you’re going for treatments and checkups, they gain confidence and in time become more comfortable with the experience.
2. Consistent Services
Ideally, you should visit a general dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and regular checkups. By having a dentist attend to your oral health needs, you receive regular and consistent care every time you visit.
3. Emergency Care
Dentists generally offer emergency care. So, in case something happens, you don’t have to waste time looking for an emergency dental care provider. You just have to make a call and/or schedule an appointment and they’ll take care of the rest.
What does an oral surgeon do?
Technically termed oral & maxillofacial surgeons, oral surgeons are dental specialists who receive four to six more years of schooling than general dentists. They train in hospital-based residencies and treat problems related to the soft and hard tissues in the mouth, jaw, and face.
Known as the maxilla, the upper jaw is considered to be the face’s architectural key. This is because all of the facial bones (apart from the mandible) touch it. The intricacies involving the maxilla (including the hard palate, nasal cavities and eye sockets) require oral surgeons to go through additional schooling.
Furthermore, they spend considerable time specializing in such areas as otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), anesthesiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery and emergency medicine. They are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating various issues related to the facial bones, including the jaw.
What are the benefits of going to an oral surgeon?
Let’s examine some reasons why you should visit an oral surgeon.
1. Training and Experience
As mentioned earlier, oral surgeons undergo extensive education to make them surgical specialists. While a few dentists might perform the occasional dental implant or wisdom tooth extraction, oral surgeons perform these treatments, among many others, every day. This ensures you receive the best possible treatment.
2. Anesthesia Options
Normally, oral surgeons are certified to sedate their patients for complex treatments. Along with making it a more comfortable experience, it simplifies billing and scheduling as they don’t need to call in a specialist to administer the anesthesia.
A Quick Summary
Some Services Offered by a Dentist
Some Services Offered by an Oral Surgeon
|● Bridges and crowns|
● Cosmetic procedures
● Gum disease treatment
● Dental implants
● Oral surgery
● Teeth cleaning
● Root canal treatment
|● Dental implants|
● Tooth extractions
● Treating facial trauma
● Cleft lip treatment
● Soft tissue and tooth surgery
● Lip and tongue tie surgeries
● Orthognathic surgery
● Removing complex tumours
● Alleviating TMJ-related problems
● Facial reconstruction surgery
As you can see, both dentists and oral surgeons work in the same profession but their job functions differ quite a lot. So, the choice of picking one over the other comes down to the treatment you need. Routine checkups can be provided by dentists, whereas it’s better to visit an oral surgeon for complex procedures such as dental implants or bridges. Also, a dentist can refer you to a surgeon in case of complicated procedures, so don’t be afraid to visit a general dentist when facing oral health-related issues.