"I do oral surgery" vs "I am an oral surgeon"

Some patients may get misled into thinking that their dentist is an oral surgeon when, in fact, they are not! Here is a common scenario: The patient sees a dentist about their wisdom teeth. The dentist says ”I do oral surgery and can help you with that.”

The patient then thinks that the dentist is an oral surgeon and proceeds with treatment, only to find out later that the dentist was not an oral surgeon. Whether it’s a dentist who says “I do oral surgery” or someone who recommends a dentist that “does oral surgery,” patients need to make sure that they have a full understanding of the qualifications of the person who will be doing their oral surgery. A board-certified oral surgeon has completed 4-6 years of rigorous training and has passed an intensive board examination while a dentist ‘doing’ oral surgery may have completed at best a few weekend courses or as in most cases no training at all!

The fact is that “doing oral surgery” does not make a dentist an oral surgeon; much like flying a small two-seat plane for hobby does not make a person qualified as a pilot of a 767 airliner. When we get into an airplane, we like to know that there is a licensed and experienced pilot who can safely fly the plane and not someone who “does flying” on the side as a hobby!

If a dentist “does oral surgery” or, even worse, “does everything,” run fast! Chances are they don’t do any of them well. If you need a tooth extraction or a dental implant, make sure that you get a board-certified oral surgeon in the operating room. And, if you need to fly, make sure you have a qualified pilot in the cockpit.