Dentistry is a vast field, much like the medical field. There is more to it than just general dentistry, tooth extraction, replacements, and even the occasional teeth whitening.

The responsibilities of a dentist are more or less common knowledge, primarily because the everyday person comes into contact with one every once in several months for regular dental checkups. But within the dentistry field are different specialisations, and it is significant that we are able to differentiate one from the other instead of lumping it all together.

One such specialisation is that of an oral surgeon’s – something that may sound complicated in the first instance. But oral surgeons carry out plenty of procedures and surgeries that we ought to know about, so as to better understand dentistry as a whole, and the kinds of problems to look out for when it comes to our own overall oral health. But before that, we need to understand exactly what oral surgeons do and specialise in.

In this article, we will address the key differences between dentists and oral surgeons and list out each specialisation’s area of expertise.

What do dentists do?

A person will see a dentist primarily for oral hygiene purposes or tooth extraction. This is the first touchpoint for anyone looking to keep track of their oral health, and will often seek out a dentist regularly to ensure everything is in tip-top condition. And while dentists do carry out surgeries, it is important to note that these surgeries are not as major as the kind oral surgeons execute.

Dentists carry out the following procedures on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Diagnose oral diseases
  2. Helping patients to manage their oral health
  3. Perform minor surgeries on the oral cavity
  4. Tooth extraction
  5. Monitoring patient tooth and jaw growth

oral surgeon

What do oral surgeons do?

As the title already suggests, oral surgeons carry out surgeries related to oral or facial injuries, and even illnesses or disease. This includes operating on a patient’s jaws, teeth, lips, and other surrounding facial structures. Oral surgeons are also the professionals who diagnose patients for the following issues: misaligned jaws, obstructive sleep apnea, or even mouth cancer.

As such, oral surgeons are a more specialised branch in dentistry and carry great importance when it comes to a person’s oral and facial functionality and overall health. They do not monitor tooth growth, but rather address more serious concerns when it comes to oral health and disease.

Here are some procedures that oral surgeons carry out:

  1. Removing tumours
  2. Removing impacted teeth
  3. Adjusting jaw position for function and comfort
  4. Reconstructing jaws and face after illness

As you can see, dentists and oral surgeons may reside in the same field, but have vastly different functions. A dentist will not be able to help realign your jaw to adjust for structure, but an oral surgeon will be more than qualified. In that vein, an oral surgeon does not offer services for minor issues related to oral health and hygiene, as general dentists are able to do just that.