BDSc (Melb)   DipClinDent (Melb)   MDSc (Qld)



About Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

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Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty based in dentistry.  After five years (usually) to achieve a dental qualification, oral and maxillofacial surgeons undergo many additional years of training.


The commonest procedure performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons is surgical removal of difficult to remove teeth.  These are often (but not always) wisdom teeth.  Lower wisdom teeth are special because their roots are close to the blood vessels and nerves that supply the lower lip, chin and tongue with feeling.  Upper wisdom tooth roots are very close to the facial sinuses.  Also wisdom teeth are often hidden by and very close to the roots of the adjacent tooth, and very frequently they are buried to some degree.  Some wisdom teeth are quite straight forward to remove.  Others may present a significant surgical challenge.


Another surgical procedure commonly performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons is placement of dental implants.  Placement of dental implants is usually very minor surgery in terms of the size of the incision(s) but all aspects of the surgery are tricky and critical.  The componentry is easily damaged (during placement) and expensive.  To achieve optimal long term appearance and function, advanced bone and/or soft tissue preservation or augmentation techniques are frequently indicated.  Also it is true to say that often only one or two millimetres, or only a few degrees in angulation, can mean the difference between success and failure when placing dental implants.  Detailed preoperative assessment and planning is necessary and this almost always includes CT scanning.  An unsuccessful dental implant is usually very difficult and expensive to remove and replace.  In view of the above, the majority of dental implant patients are referred to specialists such as oral and maxillofacial surgeons or periodontists for placement of the implant(s).  Subsequent placement of the crown or bridge on the implant(s) may or may not be carried out by the referring dentist.


There are many other surgical procedures commonly carried out by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and these include corrective jaw surgery; excision of pathological lesions of the mouth or jaw bones; repair of fractures of the jaws, cheekbones and eye sockets; and management of major infections of the face and upper neck.


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