Comparing Dentists and Oral Surgeons

What is a dentist?

Dentistry has been around for hundreds and possibly thousands of years. Tools and depictions of procedures using those tools have been discovered among many different early civilizations throughout history. The field of dentistry became solidly mainstream in the 1800s when “dentists” organized their practice as a primary professional activity, rather than as one of an array of services.

Modern dentists require a medical license that is awarded after completion of a number of years of rigorous schooling. These medical professionals are taught to address the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums, though some obtain additional licenses that focus on more specific areas of oral health.

General dentistry is usually sought for cleaning and mending of slightly damaged teeth, while providing advice on future prevention of decay and other problems. As society has seen a dramatic shift in the cosmetic direction, many dental professionals have trained to offer whitening procedures as well.

Where does an oral surgeon come in?

Patients are often referred to an oral-maxillofacial surgeon if a procedure exceeds the abilities of a general dentist. While dentists are often capable of handling simple extractions, teeth that have become severely impacted usually require someone with greater expertise. In many cases, the patient will be put under sedation for the duration of the more complex procedure, and may require several days for sufficient healing.

In addition to more difficult extractions, oral surgeons commonly handle:

  • Implant surgery
  • Reconstructive surgery on the jaw or face to resolve problems with speech and proper function
  • Corrective surgery of the jaw to improve structure and alignment
  • Grafting of the bone or soft tissues in order to resolve defects and injuries
  • Repair of birth defects that have affected the face or jaw

Which medical professional should you see?

Teeth are extremely important and should be treated with care. As the surface of a tooth wears down, more sensitive tissues can become exposed, and in cases where decay is allowed to continue, even the nerve can be affected.

When it comes to identifying which of these practitioners you should see, a consultation is almost always necessary if you have special concerns. Seeing Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman on a regular basis is highly recommended, but many clients fail to do so until they begin to experience pain or discomfort. If you are diligent in receiving routine care, though, you are more likely to prevent problems that will require the services of an oral surgeon, and will probably be happier with your smile in general.

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