What Is The Difference Between Dentists And Oral Surgeons?

Dentists and oral surgeons are not the same. It’s true that both help you correct and avoid dental problems, but there are very distinct differences when it come to training and roles in your dental care.

What Do Dentists Do?

Dentists help patients maintain the overall health of the teeth and mouth. Their services include:

  • Routine dental exams
  • Diagnosing problems with the teeth, gums and mouth
  • Teeth cleanings
  • Dental fillings
  • Simple tooth extractions
  • Crowns, bridges and implant restoration
  • Educating patients on how to take care of their teeth

What Do Oral Surgeons Do?

Dentists refer patients to oral surgeons for more complicated procedures related to the teeth, mouth and jaw. Oral surgeons offer the next level of dental care by:

  • Removing impacted teeth, including wisdom teeth
  • Performing complex tooth extractions involving bone
  • Providing tooth replacement with placement of dental implants
  • Removing cysts or tumors in the mouth
  • Performing procedures to prepare the mouth for orthodontic care
  • Removing soft tissue in the mouth
  • Repairing jaw bones
  • Performing reconstructive surgery after facial trauma
  • Administering local and general anesthesia

Surgery Without An Oral Surgeon?

In the past, dentists and oral surgeons offered separate, distinct services listed above. Today, some dentists have begun offering oral surgery-related services, such as dental implants, without an oral surgeon in their office. While many dentists are capable and successful in performing these types of procedures, we believe oral surgeons are still the best choice for more complex procedures involving your mouth, teeth and jaw.

Oral Surgeons Have More Years of Training

Oral surgeons receive four to eight years more training than general dentists. Both complete four years of undergraduate school and fours years of dental school. This is where most dentists begin their careers and join a practice or open their own. Oral surgeons, however, continue for four to eight more years of oral surgery residency where they receive specialized training in surgery and anesthesia, usually in a hospital setting. They are often considered orthopedic surgeons of the face due to their in-depth knowledge of facial bone structure. In contrast, some dentists offering dental implants or other surgical option may have only taken a 20-hour continuing education course.

Oral Surgeons Have More Experience Performing Procedures

Because they focus on offering surgical procedures, oral surgeons also have a much higher level of experience. For many dentists, surgical procedures are a small percentage of their practice, perhaps placing 10 to 20 dental implants a year. By comparison, the oral surgeons at Union Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center place about 400 dental implants per year. It stands to reason that the more you do something, you will continue to get better each time you do it.

Watch oral surgeon Dr. Jesse Ricciuti, DDS explain the difference between general dentists and oral surgeons in the video below.

Choosing Union Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center

Within the specialized field of oral surgery, we believe our team of oral surgeons differentiate themselves through their training, embrace of new technology, and overall focus on patient care.

Practice founder Steven Patty, DDS, is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry where he also completed his oral surgery residency. He is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the National Board of Dental Anesthesiology. Dr. Patty is a fellow of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, and a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

Kelley Lybrand, DDS, is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. She previously served as an assistant professor and director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Jesse Ricciuti, DDS, is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, earned his dental degree at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, and completed his Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital. He learned from his father, who is a general dentist, the importance of treating each patient as if he or she is a member of his family.

Each of our three experienced oral surgeons can deliver general anesthesiology sedation and on-site. Union Oral Surgery also has board-certified anesthesiologist Phillip Walk, MD, on staff to assist with administering general anesthesia if needed.

Union Oral Surgery has offices in Monroe and Mint Hill, and provides wisdom teeth removal, extractions, all-on-4 dentures, pre-prosthetic surgery, impacted canines, soft tissue grafting, bone and gum grafting, and crown lengthening. Our oral surgeons offer unique experience in the placement of dental implants, as well as the assessment and treatment of complications with previously placed implants. This focused expertise includes:

  • Over 400 dental implants placed each year
  • Four decades of combined experience in placing implants and caring for problem implants
  • Dedicated implant treatment coordinator
  • XNav technology for precision implant placement
  • Airflow Therapy technology for implant maintenance
  • First and only practice in the region to use Waterlase laser technology to treat troubled dental implants
  • Commitment to Continuing Education

The Best Choice For Complex Procedures

Dentists are essential to your overall dental health. However, when it comes to more complex surgery related to the mouth, jaw, and teeth, oral surgeons are unmatched in their level of training, experience, and use of the latest technology. For more information, contact Union Oral Surgery at 704-291-7333.