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what is an oms
October 25, 2022

What is an OMS? So you’ve been referred to an OMS and maybe you’re not sure why it’s necessary. While it is common knowledge when and why to visit your general dentist, what may prompt a patient to visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS)? 

As experts in oral and facial surgery, OMS’s can treat a range of conditions, including:

When a condition pertains to oral health or wellness of the head, neck, jaw or face, it is wise to consult an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Patients should visit an OMS – not their family dentist – for these more complex procedures. Often, their family dentists will refer them to an OMS they are familiar with.

Why OMS? What Does OMS Mean?

An OMS goes through dental school and then spends an minimum of four to six additional years in a hospital-based surgical residency program. Many also become board-certified, seek further degrees or complete fellowships for a subspecialty. Check out the doctor profiles on our website to learn more about the extensive education our doctors have received.

Tooth Extractions

While impacted wisdom teeth are commonly extracted, it is also often necessary to remove crowded teeth or those diseased beyond repair. OMS’s are an obvious choice for patients in need of teeth extractions, whether it’s a simple extraction or possible impaction.

Wisdom Teeth Maintenance

Though patients often opt to have their wisdom teeth removed, it is not always necessary. Still, patients who choose to keep wisdom teeth should meet with an OMS about maintenance. Each case is unique, but dentists generally recommend the removal of wisdom teeth when signs of periodontal disease, infection, and/or cavities are present.

If a patient’s teeth show none of these signs and are functional, they may not require removal. This is why it is key to continue routine dental checkups (at least annually) to track the growth of wisdom teeth, and the right OMS will help develop a plan for proper care.

Orthodontic or Preprosthetic Surgery

A patient may be referred to an OMS for a surgical procedure before orthodontics or being fitted for prosthetics. In these cases, the OMS prepares the mouth for what comes next. In the case of orthodontic surgery, that may mean the removal of over-retained baby teeth or the exposure of unerupted teeth. Before fitting for prosthetics, an OMS might remove excess bone and gum tissue or smooth and recontour the bone ridge dentures rest on.

Dental Implants

As pioneers of the dental implant procedure, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are leaders in the innovative techniques that deliver a natural-looking solution for missing or damaged teeth. Their extensive surgical training allows OMSs to successfully place dental implants in most patients, even if they have been deemed as “high risk.”

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Problems chewing, swallowing or speaking could be evidence of differences in skeletal growth between the upper and lower jaws. Corrective jaw – or orthognathic – surgery can correct a range of major and minor dental and skeletal irregularities, realigning teeth and improving basic functions such as chewing and breathing.

Consult an OMS

These are simply a few of the common reasons a patient may need oral or maxillofacial surgery. Facial cosmetic surgery, facial infections or injuries, oral pathology, snoring/obstructive sleep apnea and other general oral health conditions warrant consulting with one of our OMS.