Oral Surgeon vs Dentist Is This Career Right for You?

Share the love

The world of dentistry offers a variety of exciting career paths, each with its unique focus and skillset. While dentists and oral surgeons play crucial roles in oral health, their areas of expertise differ significantly. If you’re drawn to the field of dentistry but are unsure of which path to pursue, understanding the distinctions between these two professions can help you make an informed decision.

Video Source

The General Dentist: Your Family’s Oral Care Partner

Dentists are the primary care providers for your mouth, teeth, and gums. They are responsible for various preventive, restorative, and diagnostic procedures. Here’s a glimpse into what a typical day for a dentist might look like:

Routine checkups and cleanings: This forms the cornerstone of dental care, helping prevent cavities and gum disease. Dentists perform thorough examinations, identify potential problems, and provide professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Fillings and restorations: Dentists treat cavities by removing decayed tooth material and placing fillings. They also repair cracked, chipped, or broken teeth. Extractions: Dentists may perform extractions for severely damaged or impacted teeth, ensuring a smooth and comfortable process for the patient. Root canals: When tooth decay reaches the inner pulp, dentists perform root canals to remove infected tissue and save the tooth. Crowns and bridges: To restore the function and aesthetics of damaged teeth, dentists may recommend crowns or bridges, which are custom-made prosthetics. Dentists also offer various cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as teeth whitening and veneers, to enhance the appearance of smiles.

The Oral Surgeon: A Master of Complex Procedures

Oral surgeons are highly trained specialists who perform a broader range of complex surgical procedures within the mouth, jaw, and face. Here are some of the areas where their expertise lies:

Wisdom teeth removal: Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, often lack sufficient space to erupt properly and can cause complications. Oral surgeons are experts in removing wisdom teeth, especially those impacted or buried beneath the gum line. Dental implant placement: Dental implants are artificial tooth roots surgically placed in the jawbone to support crowns and restore missing teeth. Oral surgeons possess the advanced surgical skills and knowledge necessary for successful implant placement. Jaw surgery: In cases of severe malocclusions (misaligned bites), facial deformities, or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, oral surgeons perform corrective jaw surgery to improve function and aesthetics. Facial trauma repair: Following facial injuries, oral surgeons play a vital role in reconstructing damaged tissues and restoring facial structure and function. Oral pathology: Oral surgeons diagnose and manage various oral pathologies, including cysts, tumors, and other lesions. Depending on the diagnosis, they may perform biopsies and surgical removal of these lesions. Choosing Your Path: Consider Your Interests and Skills

Both dentists and oral surgeons play essential roles in maintaining oral health. However, the career paths diverge significantly regarding training, scope of practice, and daily activities.

Dentistry may be a good fit for you if:

You enjoy working directly with patients and building long-term relationships. You are detail-oriented and have a gentle touch for performing intricate procedures. You find preventive care and patient education to be rewarding aspects of healthcare. A career in oral surgery might be your calling if:

You are fascinated by the intricacies of facial anatomy and surgery. You strongly desire complex surgical procedures focusing on precision and high-level results. You thrive in a fast-paced environment where emergencies can arise. The Road to Becoming a Dentist or Oral Surgeon

The educational paths for dentists and oral surgeons differ significantly. To become a dentist, you must complete four years of dental school (DDS or DMD) after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Following dental school, you’ll typically complete a one-year general practice residency (GPR) to gain further clinical experience.

To become an oral surgeon, the journey is considerably longer and more rigorous. Following dental school, you must complete a four- or six-year oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) residency program. These programs provide extensive surgical procedures, anesthesia administration, and patient management training in a hospital setting.


Dentistry and oral surgery offer rewarding careers in oral healthcare. By understanding the differences between these specialties and aligning your interests and skills with the appropriate path, you can make an informed decision about your future in this exciting field.


Share the love
Scroll to Top