The differences between a dentist and dental surgeon (usually called an oral surgeon) can be compared to those of a general doctor and a general surgeon. Many people visit their GP, or general practitioner, multiple times a year for check-ups, physicals, common illnesses, and minor injuries. However, if an injury requires surgery, your GP will refer you to a specialist, a surgeon trained in treating the specific issue you’re experiencing. The same is true for general dentists and oral surgeons.
General dentists are trained in a wide range of dental procedures, and most dental problems are treatable in our office. However, when necessary Dr. Matthew L. Bridges, our general dentist in Duncan, OK, will collaborate with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to treat issues that require oral surgery. If you have oral or jaw pain, contact Chisholm Trail Smile Center at 580-255-4880 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bridges.
Both general dentists required to complete a bachelor’s degree and four additional years of dental school. During this time, students study anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and oral surgery. They also gain hands-on training to learn how to diagnose and treat dental problems. At the completion of these four years, a general dentist will go on to pass a licensure exam.
Oral surgeons, on the other hand, have the option of dental school or medical school. After four years of either schooling is complete, they will continue their education with four to six more years of a surgical residency. The Commission on Dental Accreditation requires that oral surgeons obtain additional training in oral pathology, anesthesia, and oral surgery. The doctor can then complete and pass a board certification.
What Dentists and Dental Surgeons Do for Patients
General dentists do more than just perform checkups; they can address most oral health problems. In a day’s work, a dentist may:
- Examine, diagnose, and treat oral diseases, injuries, and teeth and gum abnormalities
- Treat dental nerve and pulp disease – root canal therapy
- Fit and install dental restorations and prosthetics – crowns, bridges, dentures, implants
- Create and fit oral appliances – bite guards, night guards, TMJ devices
- Providing preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental care
- Install and manage dental braces cases for orthodontics
This is not a comprehensive list of all a general dentist can do, but you get the idea. They do a lot!
All dentists are trained and prepared to carry out these duties. If you are experiencing pain in or around your mouth, the dentist should be your first stop. He will recommend an oral surgeon if he believes you need one.
Oral surgeons usually work with a patient’s referring general dentist to ensure a positive treatment outcome for the patient’s long-term good oral health. The oral surgeon can perform surgery and other procedures related to the oral and maxillofacial (jaw) regions. The responsibilities of oral surgeons include performing surgery and procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, face, and jaw because of:
Dr. Bridges’ Interdisciplinary Approach
Dr. Bridges will always recommend and work with an oral surgeon on behalf of his patient when the situation requires it. He refers his patients only to respected, proven oral surgeons who put patient care first. The following scenarios may require an oral surgeon’s expertise:
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- TMJ disorder
- Dental implants
- Sleep apnea
- Oral cancer
- Cleft lip or palate
In many of these cases, the oral surgeon and dentist will collectively create a treatment plan that best meets the patient’s needs. This usually requires work from both parties. As is the case with dental implants—an oral surgeon will install the implant in your jaw and Dr. Bridges will design and secure the restoration, once your gums have healed.
In this way, both professionals work together to give the patient high-quality, comprehensive care.
Visit Your General Dentist in Duncan, OK
If you are experiencing pain in and around your mouth because of wisdom teeth, a cavity, jaw problems, or an unknown source, call Dr. Bridges to schedule a visit, so he can to diagnose and treat your issue. Most dental concerns can be treated in our office, but if necessary Dr. Bridges will refer you to an oral surgeon.