Oral surgeons are the most rigorously educated and trained dental professionals, and their experience in surgery is what enables them to successfully diagnose and treat the often complex and difficult ailments their patients suffer. Before an oral surgeon is licensed to practice on their own, they must go through lengthy, specialized training designed to give them the knowledge and supervised hands-on practice they need.
The road to a career in oral surgery begins with an undergraduate degree with significant coursework in the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) and mathematics. Candidates must be certain that their undergraduate work satisfies the requirements of the dental school of their choice, as well as getting a good score on the Dental Admissions Test, required for entry to dental school. While it is not always necessary to obtain a four-year degree prior to dental school, in practice a majority of candidates obtain their bachelor’s degree first.
Next, an aspiring oral surgeon must complete the four years of dental school required for anyone wishing to practice as any type of dentist. This degree combines both theoretical and practical work, with classes in anatomy and biology that focus on the face and mouth and clinical rotations in various specialty areas. Students graduate with a Doctor of Dental Surgery, or D.D.S., degree.
After achieving this level of education, next the oral surgeon in training must have a state license. To be licensed, most states require a dental degree from an accredited institution as well as a passing score on the National Board Dental Examinations. These exams include both a written and hands-on practical exam.
From there, the final step in an oral surgeon’s training is a specialty residency program. These residencies typically take from four to six years in the U.S., and include clinical work in a variety of areas critical to proficiency in the delicate, complex surgery required to address oral pathology and injuries to the mouth and face. After surgeons complete this training, they must pass another set of examinations to become board certified as oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
Thus, the entire course of training to become an oral surgeon typically takes from twelve to fourteen years, encompassing a rigorous course of study and supervised clinical practice. To maintain board certification, oral surgeons must also complete continuing education throughout their practice.
A patient who opts to consult an oral surgeon can be confident in the knowledge that they have put their health in the hands of a dental professional who has the highest level of training and experience. Dr. Hale, an oral surgeon with decades of experience dealing with both oral disease and injuries, can help you address even the most difficult dental problems. To schedule a consultation, please call 818-999-0900 or fill out our online form below.