When it comes to oral health care, understanding the different types of specialized care is crucial for patients. Among these specialties, maxillofacial surgery and oral surgery may sound quite similar, leaving you questioning their differences.

In this blog post, we will clearly outline the differences between maxillofacial surgery and oral surgery, so you can better understand which procedure is right for you.

Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is a branch of dentistry that focuses particularly on the surgical treatment of oral issues in patients. This can include tooth extractions, wisdom tooth removal, impacted canine exposure, and dental implants. Oral surgeons are required to complete dental school and undergo additional training, typically involving a four to six year hospital-based residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

Some common oral surgery procedures include:

  1. Tooth extraction: The removal of teeth that are impacted, damaged, or decayed. This process can also involve extracting wisdom teeth to prevent future complications.
  2. Wisdom tooth removal: The extraction of the third molars located in the back corners of the mouth.
  3. Impacted canine exposure: This procedure is designed to guide a canine tooth into its proper area if it is blocked from descending on its own.
  4. Dental implants: The surgical placement of an artificial tooth root (a titanium post) into the jawbone to support a dental crown, bridge, or denture.
  5. Dental bone grafting: This is done to rebuild or preserve bone in preparation for dental implants
  6. Soft tissue grafting: This is typically done to improve the soft tissue around teeth or implants.

Maxillofacial Surgery

On the other hand, maxillofacial surgery is a dental specialty dedicated to treating injuries, defects, and diseases occurring in the face, jaw, head, and neck. This discipline takes the scope of oral surgery a step further, encompassing the entire maxillofacial region. Maxillofacial surgeons must also complete dental school and additional surgical residency, which ranges from 4-6 years. Many of these procedures are preformed in a hospital or surgery center.

Some common maxillofacial surgery procedures include:

  1. Orthognathic (jaw) surgery: The correction of congenital, developmental, or trauma-related issues in the jaw area, including underbites and overbites.
  2. Facial trauma surgery: The treatment of facial injuries, such as fractures of the bones in the face and jaw, as well as lacerations and facial soft tissue injuries.
  3. Distraction osteogenesis: A technique used to guide the growth of facial bones and correct malformations or deformities.
  4. Pre-prosthetic surgery: Dental surgery that helps prepare the mouth for dentures or partial dentures.

Deciding Between Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Now that we’ve established the differences between oral and maxillofacial surgery, it’s easier to understand which type of procedure might be necessary. Essentially, while oral surgery predominantly caters to dental issues, maxillofacial surgery encompasses both dental and facial concerns.

To ensure the best possible outcome, it’s highly recommended to consult with specialized practitioners like Foley and Le Oral, Maxillofacial, and Dental Implant Surgeons. Our surgeons, Dr. Benjamin Foley, Dr. Thao Le, and Dr. Daniel Foley, are dedicated to delivering safe and effective solutions tailored to your individual needs.

If you are searching for an oral surgeon Boulder, CO, or dental implants near me, contact the experts at Foley & Le. To schedule an appointment with one of our surgeons, call (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form.

We look forward to helping improve your smile!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I See an Oral Surgeon for Dental Implants?

Yes, dental implants are a complex procedure that should be completed by a qualified and experienced oral surgeon.

Should I See an Oral Surgeon for Wisdom Tooth Removal?

If your wisdom tooth or teeth are impacted and can’t be extracted by a general dentist, an oral surgeon should be consulted. Oral surgeons are better equipped to safely remove impacted teeth in order to avoid any potential complications.

Do I Need a Referral To See an OMS?

A referral is not always necessary; however, communication between your dentist and surgeon is important to ensure your treatment plan takes all of your oral health needs into consideration. Your dentist may recommend an OMS or refer you to one if they believe it’s necessary. If you would like to be referred to Foley & Le, have your dentist or physician fill out our online referral form. If you have already been referred to our office, complete the online patient registration form before your first appointment.

Does Insurance Cover Orthognathic Surgery?

The coverage for orthognathic surgery varies by plan, so it’s best to check with your insurance carrier prior to scheduling any procedure. If it is deemed medically necessary, some plans may cover the cost of orthognathic surgery or a portion of it.

What Is Considered Medical Necessity for Orthognathic Surgery?

Medical necessity for orthognathic surgery is determined by evaluating the physical structure of your facial bones and teeth. This evaluation will determine if you have any malformations that can’t be corrected through other non-surgical means like orthodontic braces. If this is the case, then orthognathic surgery may be considered medically necessary and covered by your insurance.

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