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Oral Surgeons

The Job

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cleft lip and palate; jaw growth problems; misaligned jaw; facial injuries (such as facial lacerations, intra-oral lacerations, and fractured facial bones); and head, neck and oral cancers. They diagnose and treat infections of the oral cavity, salivary glands, jaws, and neck; treat problems affecting the oral mucosa, such as mouth ulcers and infections; perform surgeries that remove tumors and impacted, damaged, and non-restorable teeth; restore form and function by moving skin, bone, nerves, and other tissues from other parts of the body to reconstruct the jaws and face; and place dental implants. Some oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform cosmetic surgeries. Others help patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Surgeons are trained to administer conscious and full sedation for patients who require it. Dental anesthesiologists administer anesthesia in some practices.

In some cases, oral and maxillofacial surgeons work closely with other professionals, such as restorative dentists and orthodontists, to plan treatment.

Related careers include oral and maxillofacial pathologists, who investigate the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions, and oral and maxillofacial radiologists, dentists who have additional advanced specialty training in radiology of the teeth and jaws.