Considering specialising in oral and maxillofacial surgery?

oral and maxillofacial surgeryHave you ever thought of specialising in oral and maxillofacial surgery? Simran Bains gives an idea of what’s involved.

In the UK, oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) originated as the surgical specialty of dentistry. It was as a result of a specialist service needed to diagnose and treat facial injuries and diseases affecting the head and neck, sustained by the service men during both world wars.

In 1985/86 The British Association of Oral Surgery changed its title to The British Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.

As a hospital-based surgical specialty, the scope of oral and maxillofacial surgeons is therefore extensive and continually evolving. It currently encompasses:

  • Aesthetic facial surgery
  • Head and neck oncology
  • Surgical treatment of congenital facial abnormalities – including cleft lip and palate
  • Craniofacial surgery
  • Dento-alveolar surgery
  • Reconstruction of the face using local, regional and microvascular free flaps
  • Oral and facial implantology
  • Oral medicine/pathology
  • Orthognathic surgery
  • Management of salivary gland disorders
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Management of facial trauma.

Training in oral and maxillofacial surgery

The specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery is unique in requiring a dual qualification in both medicine and dentistry.

As a hospital-based surgical specialty, dual qualification became mandatory in the late 1980s. This consequently combined a dentist’s manual dexterity, operative ability and the unique understanding of head and neck anatomy, with a surgeon’s precision and medical knowledge to maximise patient outcomes.

Depending on whether dentistry or medicine has been studied first, trainees can take one of two paths to specialising.

Typically, after graduating from dentistry, graduates spend one-year in a dental practice followed up with three years…

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