Another confusing topic for patients is the training and background that Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery entails. Prior to starting the residency portion of our education all oral surgery residents will have completed nationally accredited dental school and obtained their doctorate. A very small percentage of new dentists or experienced practitioners will then apply to a residency program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery across the country. An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency is a hospital based training program of either four or six years, in the surgery and treatment of pathology of the head and neck region. This includes dentoalveolar surgery (tooth extractions,dental implants, gum surgery, etc.), facial trauma (fractures, lacerations, etc.), orthognathic jaw surgery, Temporomandibular Joint surgery (TMJ), oral pathology (cysts, tumors and cancerous lesions of the jaw,head and neck), facial cosmetic surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, obstructive sleep apnea surgery, reconstructive surgery, and the administration of general anesthesia. All training programs will have their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of how much exposure the resident has in each of these aspects. It is up the individual physician to determine their own level of comfort and decide which procedures they will perform and which they would refer.
During the four to six years of training the residents will assist in and perform a large number or a wide variety of surgeries under the supervision of an experienced attending. The supervising doctors instruct and examine the residents in the performance of surgery as well as impart their didactic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and physics. Some of the time during the residency program will be spent cross-training with other medical students and hospital residents. Typically this time is broken up over the four year period but includes training in anesthesiology, medicine, general surgery, neurology, plastic surgery and ENT surgery. The final year of the training process is referred to as the “chief” resident year. During this year the focus of the resident is primarily on oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures, aiding in the training and improvement of the less experienced residents, and preparing for the board certification process.
Once the residency program is completed a certificate is awarded allowing the former resident to specialize in the performance of oral and maxillofacial surgery under their dental license. In addition to the certificate many oral surgeons will also attempt to become board certified. This is a separate, independent examination process involving all potential aspects of the oral and maxillofacial surgery specialty as mentioned previously. This exam is a two year process involving a written and oral examination. We are proud at Pottstown Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates that all of our physicians are board certified. Every year as part of the maintenance of both the board certification and dental license our physicians undertake more than the required amount of continuing education. All of our physicians are also certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support. This extensive level of training that all of our physicians undergo allow us to provide expert level care across the full scope of our practice.