How to Choose an Oral Surgeon

Story by Mimi Greenwood Knight

If your dentist refers you to an oral surgeon, don’t panic. There are many reasons to see this dental expert. You might need oral surgery for something as common as dental implants or wisdom tooth removal, treatment of a tumor or cyst in the jaw, or resolutions of cosmetic or reconstructive issues. Oral surgeons undergo extra hospital-based training to diagnose, treat and operate to resolve injuries or issues in the head, neck, face, jaws, and hard and soft oral tissues.

Your dentist is usually the one to recommend oral surgery in the first place and a great place to begin your search. Since your current dentist knows your dental history and insurance parameters, they should be able to pair you with a local oral surgeon who specializes in the procedure you need and who accepts your insurance.

Another step is to peruse online information about and reviews of the surgeon your dentist recommends. Of course, you can ask family and friends whether they’ve had experience (good, bad, or otherwise) with any surgeon you’re considering and visit their websites to read their online bio and education. While a recent graduate won’t have as much experience as a veteran, they may be more up-to-date on the latest techniques and technology. So that’s something to consider.

Look for an oral surgeon with proficiency in the procedure you need. If you’re looking for someone to address a nerve condition, structural problem with your jaw, or to perform reconstructive surgery, for instance, look for someone who makes that a large part of their practice. And it’s a good idea to contact your insurance and double-check that the doctors you’re considering are all covered on your plan. Although you certainly can use an out-of-network surgeon, the costs are often prohibitive.

Since most (not all) oral surgery procedures happen outside of the dentist’s office in a healthcare facility like a clinic or hospital, ask any potential oral surgeon where your surgery would take place and investigate the facility. Is the hospital highly rated and accredited? Does it support enough staff to make your visit as safe and comfortable as possible? Do the surgeons and medical team members have experience conducting surgeries like yours, and what are the general outcomes? Don’t be afraid to share any concerns and ask all questions.

Lastly, look for members of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which tells you they graduated from an accredited dental school and have state licensing in the area they actively practice.

Hopefully, oral surgery is not something you’ll have to worry about often. Taking some time to research a potential oral surgeon can help provide you with the safest and most comfortable oral surgery experience and the best possible outcomes.