Oral Surgeon Job Description
Oral surgeons diagnose and treat injuries and diseases of the mouth and jaw through surgery and other procedures.
Oral surgeons provide many different types of treatments to their patients. Removing wisdom teeth and correcting jaw irregularities are common procedures for most oral surgeons, but they help patients with many other problems as well.
Oral surgeons perform cosmetic surgery to help correct facial problems in their patients. For example, they can treat cleft lip or cleft palate through surgical procedures, and install dental implants to help preserve the appearance of a full set of teeth after real teeth are removed or lost to decay.
Oral surgeons commonly work in hospitals and outpatient clinics, though they may also have separate offices where they consult with and examine patients.
How to Become an Oral Surgeon
After graduation from high school, the first step to becoming an oral surgeon is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Oral surgeons come from many academic backgrounds, but most earn a bachelor’s of science. Coursework in biology and chemistry can be very helpful when it comes to getting into dental school.
Dental school admissions are very competitive. Schools take your GPA, teacher recommendations, and score on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) into account when deciding whether or not they will accept you. Most students take the DAT during their junior year of their undergraduate program.
As part of dental school, students are required to work under the supervision of an experienced dentist who teaches them how to use the equipment, work with patients, and run a practice. It takes most people four years to graduate from dental school.
After graduating from dental school, an additional four to six years years of education is required before you can practice as an oral surgeon. This period of education is called a residency, where students learn how to operate on patients while working under the supervision of an experienced surgeon.
Completing a four year residency grants a certificate of specialty training in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Completing a six year residency grants the same certificate, as well as a medical degree. If you have the opportunity to complete a six year residency, it will open up some options for you that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
All oral surgeons must be licensed in order to practice. The exact requirements vary from state to state, so you should check with your state’s licensing board to learn more about the requirements where you live.
There are currently 8,000 oral surgeons in the United States, with 410 new oral surgeon job openings created each year.
Oral Surgeon jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Oral Surgeon Salaries
Oral Surgeon salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most oral surgeons make between $161,500 – $166,400+ per year, or $77.65 – $80+ per hour.