WHAT IS ORAL & MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY?
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) is one of the nine recognized specialties of dentistry. OMFS includes the diagnosis, surgical, and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects, including both the functional and aesthetic aspects, of the hard and soft tissues of the head, face, neck and oral cavity. What this really means is that we deal with the diagnosis and management of problems from the clavicles (collar bones) to the brain. In this area, we do overlap with some other medical specialties. Many Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons also have medical degrees and much of our work is carried out in hospitals alongside other medical specialties. Dr. Mueller has extensive training in face and jaw reconstruction – from facial cosmetic procedures such as facelift, to restoring teeth with dental implants, to complete prosthetic TMJ reconstruction.
TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the only dental specialists recognized by the American Dental Association who are surgically trained in a hospital-based residency program for a minimum of four years. They train alongside surgical residents in internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), facial plastic surgery, emergency medicine and other specialty areas including trauma and neurosurgery. This training focuses almost completely on the bone, skin and muscles of the face, mouth, jaws, neck and the entire craniofacial region.
Oral and facial surgeons have knowledge and expertise that uniquely qualifies them to diagnose and treat a number of functional and esthetic conditions in this anatomical area. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are highly trained in their specialty. In addition to a graduate degree in dentistry, they must complete a four- to six-year surgical residency program, obtaining both an M.D. degree and certification in oral and maxillofacial surgery. This unique training and expertise sets oral and maxillofacial surgeons apart from all other specialties that treat patients with head and neck and oral conditions.
HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE AN ORAL & MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON?
– First of all, be sure that the doctor is actually an OMFS…there are many general dentists and periodontists (gum doctors) that advertise that they are “oral surgeons” or provide “oral surgery services.” This is misleading and false advertising. While they may elect to perform oral surgery procedures, they ared not oral surgeons. Ask to see their American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (AAOMS) credentials. If they cannot provide their AAOMS certificate, they are NOT an OMFS or an “oral surgeon”.
– Second, be certain that the OMFS is Board Certified. It is very meaningful and important that an OMFS passes the written and oral board exams. This ensures the public that the doctor has had proper training and the proper knowledge base. Ask to view the doctor’s American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) certificate. Most board-certified OMFS doctors proudly display this certificate in their office. Board certification is the ONLY barometer of proper training and knowledge base.
– Finally, be aware of doctors presenting false or non-ADA (American Dental Association)- recognized specialty credentials. Beware of “credentials” touting “TMJ and Sleep Apnea Specialist,” “American Association of Craniofacial Pain Specialist,” “The American Board of Oral Implantology,” or “Dental Implant College” credentials. These “specialties” and “specialty designations” are not recognized by the AMA or the ADA. These are very fancy certificates given out after a doctor completes a weekend or week-long continuing education course. Only OMFS doctors have had 4 – 7 years of a hospital-based surgical residency. This uniquely qualifies them to manage oral and facial conditions outside the realm of general dentistry. Also, beware of advertising gimmicks such as, “center for dental implants,” or “institute for dental implants.” These advertisers usually bear the same false credentials listed above.
Be certain to look for both of these seals on membership certificates.
The only specialties recognized by the ADA are:
– Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – described herein.
– Endodontics – root canal specialists.
– Pedodontics – dentistry for children.
– Prosthodontics – specialist in oro-facial prosthetics.
– Periodontics – treatment and prevention of gum diseases.
– Orthodontics – diagnosis and treatment of malocclusion.
– Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology – Dental radiology specialist.
– Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology – Identification and Diagnosis of Oral Pathology.
– Dental Public health
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat a broad range of conditions and symptoms, including impacted teeth, missing teeth requiring dental implants, facial aging, facial injuries and deformities, misaligned jaws, tempo-mandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, sleep apnea, and oral cancers. Procedures include, but are not limited to, dental implants, tooth extractions including wisdom teeth, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. In addition, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the only dental specialists who are sufficiently trained and permitted to practice general anesthesia techniques in most states. This is the case in the state of Virginia. The scope of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery practice includes, among others:
- Outpatient Anesthesia
- Dental implants and bone grafting
- Dentoalveolar Surgery to manage diseases of the teeth and their supporting soft and hard tissues
- Surgical Correction of Maxillofacial Skeletal Deformities
- Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery
- Facial Trauma Surgery
- Temporomandibular Joint Surgery
- Surgical Management of the Complex Airway
- Pathologic Conditions, such as head and neck cancer
- Facial Reconstructive Surgery
- Facial Cosmetic Surgery
- Surgical Correction of Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea