Your choice of a dentist is probably the single biggest decision you will make. The most appropriate dental specialist for performing oral surgery including wisdom teeth surgery, dental implants, bone grafting, and oral pathology and trauma is an oral surgeon specifically trained for these procedures.
There are several ways to find an oral surgeon that meets your needs and personality: Your dentist can recommend an oral surgeon that he or she knows, trusts, and, has had great experiences with. You might also get personal recommendations from family members, friends, or co-workers who have had the surgery. Online research has become an increasingly popular way to find dentists, and provides helpful information about their practice, in addition to patient reviews. Advertisements are another way. In some instances, your general dentist may have decided to perform oral surgery.
Questions to ask to help you make the right decision
Are you an oral surgeon?
An oral surgeon is the only dental specialist trained specifically for extraction of third molars, dental implant surgery, bone grafting, oral pathology, and trauma. Having treated thousands of patients, you can be certain that you are in the hands of an expert.
Here are the key reasons why you would want to select an oral surgeon to perform your surgery:
- Oral surgeons are the only dental specialists who can provide IV sedation anesthesia in the office.
- Oral surgeons can perform the procedure quicker and more conservatively, which translates into less pain, less swelling, and less overall complications*
- Oral surgeons use special instruments and equipment designed specifically for extractions, making it safe and easier to perform.
- Oral surgeons have the knowledge, experience, and the ability to handle challenges, complications, or unusual circumstances that may arise.
- The office is equipped with proper surgical equipment and staff is specifically trained for surgical procedures creating a safe environment.
How many wisdom teeth patients do you treat?
Some dentists may have specific interests and experience with wisdom teeth extractions and although not an oral surgeon, may perform the procedure with same predictability. However, this level of experience requires a dentist to treat at least three to five wisdom teeth patients a week. In his book, Outliers**, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the “10,000 Hour Rule”. It says achieving excellence at performing a complex task, with true mastery, greatness, and status as a world-class expert in anything, requires 10,000 hours of practice. Be cautious- ask if wisdom teeth surgery is an occasional procedure for them or something they do routinely. Also, your choice of anesthesia may be limited to local anesthesia only, therefore being awake.
What formal training do you have?
Oral surgeons receive four to six years of formal surgical training in hospital-based residency programs. Some dentists may take courses on extractions on dental implants. These courses vary in duration and intensity, from a short weekend course to a series over a year or more. Majority of courses are classroom style and do not provide surgical training to the participants. If your dentist is not an oral surgeon, ask about the extent of his or her training.
Do you specialized training in dental implants?
Successful dental implant surgery requires formal training and years of experience. While it’s a highly successful and predictable procedure, it’s not simple, requiring the skills of a trained specialist and restorative dentist working as a team. Oral surgeon and periodontists are the only two specialty who receive formal surgical training and spend intensive continuing education and practice to achieve predictable results. Beware of dentists how perform dental implant surgery after completing some weekend courses. Implants have a more than 98 percent success rate when performed by the right team of dentists that use quality implants, customized components, and reputable labs. This saves patients money by preventing complications and re-dos, and improving longevity.
What anesthesia options do you offer?
Decide whether you want to be sleep or not for the procedure. More than 98 percent of patients choose IV sedation for wisdom teeth surgery as offered by almost all oral surgeons. The alternative is being awake with use of local anesthesia (numbing) only. The decision for the type of anesthesia is often based on the complexity of the surgery as well as level of patient’s anxiety.
How long does the surgery take?
In most patients, extraction of all four wisdom teeth takes 15 to 20 minutes when performed by an experienced oral surgeon. Placement of a single dental implant can take 15 to 30 minutes if done properly. Increase in surgical time may contribute to additional pain and swelling following surgery. Depending on the level of experience, staff support, and type of instruments, treatment time may increase to 45 to 60 minutes if performed dentists other than oral surgeons.