Oral Surgeons are specialists in the care and treatment of the teeth, mouth, face and jaw. They often work as part of a team with a patient’s dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician or other medical provider, managing issues that require specialized training or surgical care.
Many providers have one or two oral surgery practices they work with regularly, and they will refer you to one of those practices if you need specialized care. If you trust your doctor or dentist, you can probably trust that they are sending you to the best place. However, in this day of the internet and social media, many patients like to do their own research even if they have a referral, and learn more about the oral surgeon before they make an appointment.
The problem is, how can a patient tell if an oral surgeon is the one most qualified to treat them? Does a flashy website or dozens of positive reviews equal the best choice? Here is a checklist to help patients choose the best oral surgeon:
- First, see if the provider accepts your insurance, or if they can help you set up good financing to help you pay for your procedure. Remember that insurance plans change every year, so start each new year by verifying what coverage you have, and what other payment options are available through your employer. (See our blog post on Insurance and financing for more information).
- Look at the training and credentials of the oral surgeon. All oral surgeons should have completed 4-6 years of training and be Board Certified in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Some oral surgeons earn a duel degree in medicine and dentistry, and spend a full year studying General Surgery. This additional training can be valuable for some complex procedures, although is not as important for patients seeking tooth extractions or dental implants.
- In addition to the provider, it is good to know what the oral surgery facility has to offer. These days, oral surgeons should have digital dental and panoramic x-ray equipment. In addition, many modern offices feature cone beam CT scanners and specialized digital scanners that enable them to get a clearer picture of the mouth or other area needing treatment. All this technology can reduce the time and increase the accuracy of your treatment.
- If you require general anesthesia for your surgery, find out if the office staff is qualified to administer anesthesia, and to monitor you safely in their office. For some providers or procedures, you may be need to be treated in a hospital, so find that out in advance.
- If you feel comfortable with social media, look for reviews, testimonials, awards and honors. While social media can be an unpredictable source of information, you can use information you find on the internet as part of your decision making process.
Sometimes the best way to make a decision is to meet the provider face to face. Schedule a consultation, and bring a long list of questions. In addition, see if the facility appears clean, comfortable and well-equipped, and the staff seem to be knowledgeable, friendly and caring. If you feel confident about the provider you’ve chosen, you’re more likely to have a positive attitude and outcome.