Let’s describe the similarities and differences between a general dentist and an oral surgeon.
To start, you need a four-year undergraduate degree. Few dental schools require a specific undergraduate degree, but many aspiring dentists major in a scientific field such as biology, chemistry, or anatomy.
How Do You Get Into Dental School?
To get into dental school, you must take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Then you start applying to dental schools. Being accepted into a dental program is no small accomplishment. You need a high college GPA and a good score on the DAT.
Dental school typically takes four years. To graduate, a student must pass a series of exams at the national and state level before earning a dental degree.
Depending on the state, a dental school graduate may need to pass an additional clinical exam.
DDS or DMD
When a dentist graduates, they either earn a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of (Medicine in Dentistry).
You Need Even MORE School to Earn a Specialty
When a dentist completes dental school, they can pursue a specialty degree.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recognized the following specialties:
- Oral surgeon
- Pediatric dentist
- Oral radiologist
- Oral pathologist
- Public health dentist
What is an Oral Surgery Residency?
Dental specialty programs run from two years to six years. This type of training is called a “residency”. While a DDS or DMD is completing specialty training he/she can practice general dentistry.
Some six-year oral surgery residency programs provide a medical degree as well as an oral and maxillofacial certification.
Oral surgery residencies are offered through teaching hospitals. The training occurs in a hospital setting. This is a key difference between dental school and a specialty residency. Dental school instruction does not take place in a dental practice.
Let’s Do The Math
When an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is finished with schooling, he/she has from 8 to 10 years of post-college instruction!
Some General Dentists Provide Surgical Procedures
Many general dentists provide surgical procedures such as tooth extractions. However, many will refer a patient to an oral surgeon if the extraction involves an impacted wisdom tooth or another complication.
Some general dentists, cosmetic dentists, and periodontists provide implant services.
However, an oral surgeon has the most training and experience in dental implants and all other types of oral surgery.
The American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to recognize and treat a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. They are also trained to administer anesthesia and provide care in an office setting. The American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
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