Oral and maxillofacial surgery

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Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
US Navy 060522-N-9389D-149 Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Roland Alferos grabs a suture from a dental tray while assisting with oral surgery aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).jpg
Names Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Dentistry, medicine, surgery
Education required

Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS or OMFS) specializes in treating many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (jaws and face) region. It is an internationally recognized surgical specialty. In some countries around the world, including the United States, India, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Sweden and Israel, it is a recognized specialty of dentistry; in others, such as the UK and most of Europe, it is recognized as both a specialty of medicine and dentistry, and a dual degree in medicine and dentistry is compulsory.


In several countries oral and maxillofacial surgery is a speciality recognized by a professional association, as is the case with the Dental Council of India, American Dental Association, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Dentists of Canada, Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons and Brazilian Federal Council of Odontology (CFO).

In other countries oral and maxillofacial surgery as a specialty exists but under different forms, as the work is sometimes performed by a single or dual qualified specialist depending on each country's regulations and training opportunities available.


An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a regional specialist surgeon treating the entire craniomaxillofacial complex: anatomical area of the mouth, jaws, face, and skull, as well as associated structures.

Depending upon the jurisdiction, maxillofacial surgeons may require training in dentistry, surgery, and general medicine; training and qualification in medicine may be undertaken optionally even if not required.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is widely recognized as one of the specialties of dentistry. In many countries, however, maxillofacial surgery is a medical specialty requiring both medical and dental degrees, culminating in an appropriate qualification (e.g. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, FRCS, in the UK). All oral and maxillofacial surgeons however must obtain a university degree in dentistry before beginning residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery. In the United States oral and maxillofacial residency programs are either four or six years in duration. Programs that grant the MD degree are six years in duration.

They also may choose to undergo further training in a one or two year subspecialty Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Fellowship Training in the following areas:

The popularity of oral and maxillofacial surgery as a career for persons whose first degree was medicine, not dentistry, seems to be increasing in a few EU countries[clarification needed]. However, the public funds spent for 14 years of training are of a major concern for governments. Integrated programs are becoming more available to medical graduates allowing them to complete the dental degree requirement in about three years in order for them to advance to subsequently complete oral and maxillofacial surgical training.[1]

Surgical procedures[edit]

Treatments may be performed on the craniomaxillofacial complex: mouth, jaws, face, neck, and skull, and include:

Anesthesia training[edit]

In the United States, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are required to undergo five months of intensive general anesthesia training.[citation needed] An additional month of pediatric anesthesia training is also required.[citation needed]

The American Society of Anesthesiologists published a Statement on the Anesthesia Care Team which specifies qualified anesthesia personnel and practitioners as anesthesiologists, anesthesiology fellows, anesthesiology residents, oral surgery residents, anesthesiologist assistants, and nurse anesthetists.[2]

Laser applications in OMS[edit]

Lasers were first introduced to OMS in the mid-1980s starting with the CO2 laser.[3] The CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser remains the gold standard for the soft tissue surgery because of the ease of simultaneous photo-thermal ablation and coagulation (and small blood capillary hemostasis).[4] The CO2 laser is used in oral and dental surgery for virtually all soft-tissue procedures, such as gingivecomies, vestibuloplasties, frenectomies and operculectomies.[3][5] The CO2 laser's 10,600 nm wavelength is also safe around implants as it is reflected by titanium, and thus has been gaining popularity in the field of periodontology. It may be effective in treating peri-implantitis.[6]

In the UK and most of Europe[edit]

Oral and maxillofacial (OMF) surgeons specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck.

OMF surgery is unique in requiring a dual qualification in medicine and dentistry, and is often seen as the bridge between medicine and dentistry, treating conditions that require expertise from both backgrounds such as head and neck cancers, salivary gland diseases, facial disproportion, facial pain, temporomandibular joint disorders, impacted teeth, cysts and tumours of the jaws as well as numerous problems affecting the oral mucosa such as mouth ulcers and infections.

Many OMF surgeons focus on one of these areas to develop a sub-specialist interest within the scope of the wider specialty.

In Australia, New Zealand, and North America[edit]

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association, Royal College of Dentists of Canada, the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons. Oral and maxillofacial surgery requires four to six years of further formal university training after dental school (DDS, BDent, DMD or BDS). In the United States, four-year residency programs grant a certificate of specialty training in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Six-year residency programs grant the specialty certificate in addition to a degree such as a medical degree (MD, DO, MBBS, MBChB etc.), or research degree (MS, MSc, MPhil, MDS, MSD, MDSc, DClinDent, DSc, DMSc, or PhD). Both four- and six-year graduates are designated US "Board Eligible," and those who earn "Certification" are Diplomats. Approximately 50% of the training programs in the US and 66%[7] of Canadian training programs are "dual-degree".

The typical training program for an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is:

  • 2 – 4 years undergraduate study (BS, BA, or equivalent degrees)
  • 4 years dental study (DMD, BDent, DDS or BDS)
  • 4 – 6 years residency training – Some programs integrate an additional degree such as: a master's degree (MS, MDS, MSc, MClinDent, MScDent, MDent), doctoral degree (PhD, DMSc, DClinDent, DSc), or medical degree (MBBS, MD, DO, MBChB, MDCM)
  • After completion of surgical training most undertake final specialty examinations: US: "Board Certified (ABOMS)", Australia/NZ: FRACDS, or Canada: "FRCDC"
  • Some colleges offer membership or fellowships in oral/maxillofacial surgery: MOralSurg RCS, M(OMS) RCPS, FFD RCSI, FEBOS, FACOMS, FFD RCS, FAMS, FCDSHK, FCMFOS (SA)
  • Many dually qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeons are now also obtaining fellowships with the American College of Surgeons (FACS).
  • Average total length after secondary school: 12 – 14 years

In addition, graduates of oral and maxillofacial surgery training programs can pursue fellowships, typically 1 – 2 years in length, in the following areas:

In Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong a master's programme and an advanced diploma programme are offered by the Faculty of Dentistry of The University of Hong Kong.[8][9] Oral and maxillofacial surgery departments are available at public hospitals managed by the Hospital Authority.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Baylor College of Dentistry: OMS Residency Admission Requirements". Archived from the original on May 8, 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b "Oral and Maxillofacial Laser Surgery – CO2 Laser – LightScalpel". LightScalpel. Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  4. ^ Strauss, RA; Coleman, M (2011). "Lasers in Major Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery". In Convissar, RA. Principles and Practice of Laser Dentistry. Mosby. pp. 234–250. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-06206-0.00014-X. 
  5. ^ "Laser-Assisted Operculectomy". cced.cdeworld.com. Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  6. ^ Linden, Eric; Vitruk, Peter (2015). "SuperPulse 10.6 µm CO2 laser-assisted, closed flap treatment of peri-implantitis". Implant Practice US. 8 (4): 30–34. 
  7. ^ J. Gigliotti, N. Makhoul: Demographics, training satisfaction, and career plans of Canadian oral and maxillofacial surgery residents. Int. J. Oral Maxillofac. Surg. 2015; 44: 1574–1580.
  8. ^ "Master of Dental Surgery in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery". Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong. 
  9. ^ "Advanced Diploma in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery". Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong. 
  10. ^ "The Hong Kong Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Limited". 
  11. ^ "Hospital Authority". 

External links[edit]