At some point in life, many of us might require the services of an oral surgeon…whether it’s for wisdom teeth extractions as a teenager…or a dental implant in our 50s. Oftentimes your general dentist may refer you to a surgeon with whom they have an established working relationship. However, there are still some things to know and consider when choosing to see a specialist.
What exactly is an oral surgeon?
Oral surgeons have specific education and training to prepare them to expertly perform dental surgery. They have a deeper understanding of the intricate nerves, muscles and cavities of the face in order to more precisely perform dental surgical procedures that closely come in contact with these delicate areas. They are also highly skilled in the administration of anesthesia, including for IV sedation, which offers many patients the opportunity to be a bit more comfortable during their procedures. They work in conjunction with your general dentist to propose comprehensive treatment options and consider the long-term effects of any surgical procedure on your overall dental health.
Key Considerations Before Selecting Your Oral Surgeon
Obviously, education is critical. On top of dental school, oral surgeons typically undergo four to six years of specialized surgical and anesthesia training. Make sure your oral surgeon not only has the proper credentials but continues to pursue ongoing education to stay abreast of the latest surgical techniques and advances.
Give your insurance a call. Check to see how oral surgery procedures may be covered under your particular plan. Coverage could be subject to a waiting period, a yearly maximum or other plan limitations. It’s possible that your medical insurance will need to be billed as well. In many instances, you may even be able to find an oral surgeon that is an in-network provider for your insurance carrier. These are important questions to ask prior to any oral surgery appointment.
Education and training are, of course, important, but so is experience—especially in the type of procedure your general dentist may be recommending for you. You should feel free to ask for references and reviews not only from your general dentist’s office, but from other individuals in the community who may have had similar procedures. Do keep in mind that every individual’s experience may not be the same- surgical outcomes may vary depending on a person’s health history or how well they follow post-operative care instructions.
Even if you find the perfect oral surgeon candidate, it does you no good if they are too busy to schedule your surgery and follow-up appointments within a timely manner. As is the case in many healthcare fields, some oral surgeons can be booked out well in advance. These circumstances can make it challenging to get your particular needs taken care of quickly, especially if you are having pain or discomfort. You want to find a practitioner who offers some scheduling flexibility that will best accommodate your needs.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is quite a diverse field of study. There are some types of procedures that every office or oral surgeon may not offer as a service, either due to professional preference or due to lack of the needed technology or facilities. Some comprehensive procedures may even necessitate that the patient have them performed in a hospital setting. Before you decide on an oral surgeon, check to make sure they offer the services that you need performed and have the proper facilities or needed hospital privileges to do so.