How To Become an Oral Surgeon

Oral Surgeon

Oral surgeons, also known as maxillofacial surgeons, are highly skilled dental professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the mouth, jaws, face, and neck. Their expertise extends beyond the craft of simple dentistry and covers a wide range of surgical procedures and complex treatments.

At Nock Oral Surgery, we’re passionate about this field of craft. Whether that has to do with our professional experience or care for our patients, we want to share the road towards our craft with those who might consider pursuing a path in our footsteps.

If you’re thinking about wanting to enter this field, here’s a step-by-step guide that encompasses the rigorous yet rewarding journey of entering the field of Oral Surgery. You can also check us out on our website ( if you need any specific information not included in this post.

Now, let’s get into the process!

Academic Foundation

The journey to becoming an oral surgeon begins with a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as pre-dentistry, biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, or mathematics. Of course, maintaining a strong GPA and excelling in prerequisite coursework is essential for gaining admission to dental school, where the foundation for a career in oral surgery is laid.

Passing the Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test is a computer-based test that evaluates a student’s basic understanding of science, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. Before entering dental school, applicants must take the DAT and earn a passing score. 

Dental School Application

Upon passing the DAT, applying for a four-year dental program is the next step. Every school has various admission requirements, but they typically include completing a certain number of undergraduate science courses, a passing DAT score, a personal interview, and the completion of an application questionnaire.

Earning a Dental Degree

In dental school, the curriculum consists of students studying medical theories and practicing clinical treatments. The first two years focus on general science, anatomy and dentistry. The last two years include more clinical experience and specialized electives, including hands-on training in respective fields. Oral surgeons are typically offered to take electives in oral surgery or radiology depending on their dental program.

Residency Training

Following dental school graduation, aspiring oral surgeons must complete a rigorous residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery. These programs typically span four to six years and provide intensive, specialized training in surgical procedures, patient management, trauma care, and anesthesia administration. Residents gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced mentors, honing their surgical skills and clinical judgment in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and operating rooms.

Board Certification

Upon completion of residency training, oral surgeons have the option to pursue board certification through the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS). Candidates must pass a rigorous examination which typically involves taking a two-part exam with a multiple-choice component and a practice portion that tests a student’s technical skills and knowledge. Board certification demonstrates proficiency and competence in the field and is recognized as a mark of excellence by colleagues, patients, and employers.

The Range of An Oral Surgeon

Still debating if this is the right career path for you or not? Let’s break down what a career in Oral Surgery consists of!

Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

Oral surgeons begin their work with a comprehensive evaluation of patients’ oral health. They work with advanced diagnostic tools such as X-rays, CT scans, and intraoral cameras to assess the underlying structures and identify any abnormalities or conditions requiring treatment. Based on these findings, oral surgeons develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs and goals.

Extractions and Oral Surgery

Of course, one of the primary responsibilities of oral surgeons is performing extractions of damaged, impacted, or diseased teeth. This includes wisdom teeth removal, which often requires surgical intervention due to impaction or insufficient space in the jaw. Oral surgeons are exclusively trained to perform these complex extractions whilst minimizing discomfort and ensuring optimal outcomes for patients.

Dental Implants

Oral surgeons play a pivotal role in restoring missing teeth through the usage of dental implants. These are titanium posts surgically implanted into the jawbone to serve as artificial tooth roots. Dental implants are meant to last a lifetime, so Oral surgeons must possess the specialized training and expertise required to the surgery with precision and skill, ensuring long-term stability and function for patients.

Corrective Jaw Surgery

For patients with congenital abnormalities, facial trauma, or orthodontic issues, oral surgeons offer corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery. This procedure involves repositioning the jaws to improve bite alignment, facial symmetry, and overall function. Oral surgeons collaborate closely with orthodontists and other specialists to achieve optimal results for patients requiring jaw surgery.

Treatment of Oral Pathology

Oral surgeons diagnose and treat a variety of oral and facial pathologies, including cysts, tumors, and infections. They may perform biopsies to obtain tissue samples for pathological analysis and develop treatment plans tailored to the specific condition.

Management of Facial Trauma

In cases of facial trauma resulting from injuries, oral surgeons are skilled in the management of facial fractures, lacerations, and soft tissue injuries. They employ advanced techniques such as open reduction and internal fixation to repair facial fractures and restore both form and function to the affected area.

Surgical Treatment of TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause pain, dysfunction, and discomfort in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Oral surgeons offer surgical interventions, such as arthroscopy or open joint surgery, to address severe or refractory TMJ disorders. These procedures aim to alleviate pain, improve jaw function, and enhance quality of life for patients suffering from TMJ-related symptoms.

Collaboration and Continuity of Care

Oral surgeons work collaboratively with other dentists, physicians, and healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care for their patients. They prioritize open communication, interdisciplinary collaboration, and patient-centered care to ensure seamless transitions between treatments and optimize outcomes for patients with complex oral health needs. Good communication and active listening are crucial skills in excelling in the field of Oral Surgery.

In Conclusion

The path towards this noble pursuit is a long, rigorous one that requires a lot of work and training. If you’re passionate about prioritizing patient care and working with advanced surgical techniques, it’ll surely pay off in the end. The national average salary for Oral Surgeons is $282,016 a year with common benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance, malpractice insurance and retirement savings accounts.

If you do decide to pursue a path in Oral and Maxillofacial surgery, we at Nock Oral Surgery hope this blog gives you the information you were looking for to begin your pursuit towards your dream career! Let’s transform more smiles with confidence, together.

This article was written by Anna Naim at Third Loft Marketing (

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