Did you know that each year, approximately 5 million Americans have their wisdom teeth removed? An oral maxillofacial surgeon is the healthcare practitioner called upon when you need surgery on your mouth, jaw, or face. 

But what exactly is the scope of practice for an oral maxillofacial surgeon? Many people wonder how these specialists differ from dentists or plastic surgeons. 

With over $3 billion spent on wisdom teeth extraction each year, it is helpful in knowing why people opt for an oral surgeon and if insurance covers these pricey procedures. 

If you have been curious about whether you might need a specialized oral surgeon, then keep reading on for more information.

What Is an Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon?

An oral maxillofacial surgeon has received dental training and then additional years practicing to be a surgeon. These surgeons specialize in the face, mouth, and jaw. 

They can perform in-depth surgeries, minor procedures, and even cosmetic surgeries such as facelifts. 

Who Needs Oral Maxillofacial Surgery?

It is likely that you might visit an oral maxillofacial surgeon at some point in your life. They perform a wide variety of procedures, including wisdom teeth extractions. What other procedures do they specialize in?

  • Jaw realignment
  • Dental implants
  • Cleft lip
  • Biopsies
  • Cyst removals
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Gum grafting
  • Sleep apnea surgeries

If you have disorders of the mouth, jaw, or face, your dentist or primary care provider can provide you with a referral. Cosmetic surgery would also fall under these categories, including dental work or facial reconstruction. 

Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon vs Dentist

So – what is the difference between these specialized surgeons and your standard dentist? For starters, surgeons have additional years of training post-dental school where they learn various surgical interventions with use of technology for mouth, jaw, and face. 

Some may even have specialties in anesthesia. While dentists have training in basic dental procedures, more extensive surgical needs are often passed onto oral maxillofacial surgeons. 

At your dentist’s office, you can receive teeth cleanings, x-rays, dental fillings, crown placements, and veneers. You might even find some dentists that perform tooth extractions, but anything beyond that is predominantly out of their scope. 

For example, wisdom teeth extractions are usually more complex than simple tooth extraction and require the skill set and expertise of a surgeon. They also differ slightly from orthodontists.

If you have a severe overbite or underbite, it could be caused by jaw misalignments. Orthodontists can work closely on aligning your teeth and jaw to a certain extent. An oral maxillofacial surgeon is your best bet if you need further expertise.

There is one other area that oral maxillofacial surgeons target more than dentists, and that is denture fittings. Sometimes, bone grafts or jaw correction surgeries can help dentures fit better and last longer. 

Deciding on Specialists

Now that you know the difference between oral maxillofacial surgeons and dentists, you might wonder when to see a plastic surgeon or even an ENT. One area of expertise that oral maxillofacial surgeons have are addressing sleep apnea concerns.  

These surgeons can work on soft tissue reconstruction that helps your breathing and airway for various sleep disorders. An oral surgeon may also be recommended if you have a cancerous growth near the head, neck, or jaw. 

They can perform biopsies and consult with the rest of your oncologist team. Lastly, should you see a plastic surgeon or an oral surgeon for cosmetic procedures?

Some oral surgeons have a sub-speciality in cosmetic procedures. One of the main benefits of seeing an oral surgeon is that they can look more closely at the bone and structural layout of your face. 

If you want a facelift or injection, an oral surgeon can assess the bone structure of your cheeks, jaw, and nose for suggestions and advice. In return, this can often lead to improved outcomes. Additionally, many oral surgeons suggest that close interaction and collaboration between plastic surgeons can provide patients with better results.

Insurance Coverage

When you are searching for an ‘oral surgeon near me,’ you may run into a slight panic wondering how much your insurance will cover. Most plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeries are not deemed ‘medically necessary’ and usually won’t be covered by your insurance plan.

If your oral surgeon is helping correct a medical condition, then it will be covered – to some extent – by your insurance. These include things such as:

  • Facial deformities
  • Congenital defects
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Reconstruction from traumas
  • Structural abnormalities

Some things that may not fall under coverage by your insurance are temporomandibular joint disorders or enhancement procedures. Additionally, Medicare won’t cover dental work or simple procedures in most scenarios. 

There are some instances where oral surgery work is necessary for improving your general health and well-being, such as in the case of removing a tumor. Medicare Advantage plans might have dental work included in the cost, but you should always check ahead and make sure you have coverage in case you need excessive dental work down the road. 

Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon Provo UT

An oral maxillofacial surgeon can help you address problems related to the face, jaw, and mouth. They are specialized healthcare providers that have extensive training in addressing illnesses, deformities, and injuries. 

Compared to a general practitioner, an oral surgeon can give you better results on issues related to your face, neck, or head. Finding a qualified and excellent surgeon is the next big barrier.

Have you been googling, ‘an oral maxillofacial surgeon near me’? If so, you can stop your searches. Contact us today for a consultation and rest easy knowing you are in good hands.