What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?

Dental specialties are more than few and far between, they’ve become very common. But, the question many people have is when do you see a specialist instead of a general dentist? Here is a breakdown of the difference between a general dentist and a dental specialist, like an oral surgeon.

What Is a Dentist?

A dentist is qualified by schooling to practice treating diseases and conditions that affect oral health. A dentist goes through dental school and may achieve a Doctor of Dental Medicine or DMD, or Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS. Typically, a dentist will complete their undergraduate studies, finish the admissions test for dental school and then attend dental school for four to five years. Some go right into the professional field rather than go on for additional training.

These dentists handle things like root canals, crowns, fillings, veneers and bridges. They may also handle basic surgical treatments such as abscess removal and basic extractions.

What Is an Oral Surgeon?

Oral surgeons focus only on dental surgeries and are often called oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Some common surgeries that they handle are wisdom teeth removal, TMJ corrections, defect or injury reconstructions, removal of oral cancer masses and dental implants. Oral surgeons go on after dental school to finish a surgical residency and some even obtain a medical degree along with their dental degree. While dentists are perfectly capable of handling simple extractions and basic dental care, it may be better to see an oral surgeon for any type of surgical procedure. This ensures that you have the best care for your specific surgery and minimal recovery time.

Once dental school is complete, some dentists opt to specialize in one of nine specialties defined by the American Dental Association:

  • Prosthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Pediatrics
  • Orthopedics
  • Orthodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology

Contact Us

To learn more about the reason to choose an oral surgeon, contact our office. We would love to provide any information or further details you’d like to know about why you should see a dental specialist. Dr. Kalman and team would be happy to provide a consultation for any issue you have.

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