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Oral And Maxillofacial Surgery Career

Career Description

An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon performs surgery on mouth, jaws, and related head and neck structure to execute difficult and multiple extractions of teeth,  to remove tumors and other abnormal growths, to correct abnormal jaw relations by mandibular or maxillary revision, to prepare mouth for insertion of dental prosthesis, or to treat fractured jaws.

Common Work Tasks

  • Administer general and local anesthetics
  • Remove impacted, damaged, and non-restorable teeth
  • Evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth to determine whether problems exist currently or might occur in the future
  • Collaborate with other professionals, such as restorative dentists and orthodontists, to plan treatment
  • Perform surgery to prepare the mouth for dental implants, and to aid in the regeneration of deficient bone and gum tissues
  • Remove tumors and other abnormal growths of the oral and facial regions, using surgical instruments
  • Treat infections of the oral cavity, salivary glands, jaws, and neck
  • Treat problems affecting the oral mucosa, such as mouth ulcers and infections
  • Provide emergency treatment of facial injuries including facial lacerations, intra-oral lacerations, and fractured facial bones
  • Perform surgery on the mouth and jaws to treat conditions such as cleft lip and palate and jaw growth problems

Other Job Titles

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are also known by other titles, including:

  • Dentists
  • Surgeons
  • Prosthodontists
  • Periodontists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
To become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, candidates must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical examinations. Dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level predental education prior to admittance. Most dental students have at least a bachelor’s degree before entering dental school, although a few applicants are accepted to dental school after 2 or 3 years of college and complete their bachelor’s degree while attending dental school.

Certification and Licensure
Licensing is required to practice as a dentist. In most States, licensure requires passing written and practical examinations in addition to having a degree from an accredited dental school. Candidates may fulfill the written part of the State licensing requirements by passing the National Board Dental Examinations. Individual States or regional testing agencies administer the written or practical examinations.

  Dentistry requires diagnostic ability and manual skills. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons should have good visual memory, excellent judgment regarding space, shape, and color, a high degree of manual dexterity, and scientific ability. Good business sense, self-discipline, and good communication skills are helpful for success in private practice.


The median annual salary for an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is $145,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of oral and maxillofacial surgeons are:

  • Offices of Dentists - $182,180
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $96,790
  • Offices of Physicians - $188,560

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  9%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 700
  • Employment 2006 : 7,700
  • Employment 2016:  8,400
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