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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon — What?

The American Dental Association (ADA) defines an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMFS) as one who specializes in diagnostics, surgery and adjunctive treatment of the functional and aesthetic aspects (in this instance, "aesthetic" refers to cosmetic dentistry) of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions.

The oral and maxillofacial region includes the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. Procedures performed by an OMFS can (and do) include everything from remedying sleep apnea (the temporary stoppage of breathing during the night), to treating Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) to the correction of cleft palate and facial deformities.

Until about half a century ago, the OMFS specialty was referred to simply as "oral surgeon." At that time, dentists wishing to become oral surgeons typically spent between 1 to 2 years in post-dental school studies. In these advanced studies, the burgeoning oral surgeons learned to do what some general dentists of today take care of on their own; namely, a tooth extraction, removal of mouth lesions and dental treatment of oral infections.

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