This field of oral and maxillofacial surgery is exciting and challenging, requiring mastery of skills to address both functional and aesthetic elements of the head, face, mouth, jaw, and neck. Thus, it requires specialized training—beyond a bachelor’s degree—of at least 8 years total. Here are the years of training you can expect to meet the requirements to practice and earn board certification in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Undergraduate education: 4 years
A four-year or equivalent bachelor’s degree from a university is the first step toward becoming a maxillofacial surgeon, providing you take the prerequisites to have eligibility to apply for dental school.
Dental school: 4 years
To begin your career path to becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, earn either a DMD or DDS degree—both require 4 years. Some accelerated programs may award degrees in 3 years.
In addition to dental school, some surgeons may choose to also attend medical school. While medical school is not required to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery, some surgeons may prefer to earn dual degrees before hospital-based residency training.
Hospital-based residency training: 4 years
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are required to spend a minimum of 4 years in a hospital-based residency training program. During this time, you can expect to train alongside doctors from other disciplines including anesthesiology, internal medicine, and general surgery to acquire the diverse range of surgical and ancillary skills needed, such as anesthesia and pathology.
After successful completion of residency, you will then need to obtain state licensure to begin to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery. Some surgeons then choose to expand their skills via a fellowship or other added education. Regardless, most oral and maxillofacial surgeons choose to begin their application for board certification at this time.
Board certification in oral and maxillofacial surgery after residency
Once you have completed the years of training required to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery, pursuing board certification from the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) further shows your skill in the specialty. Our rigorous Board certification and Certification Maintenance processes examine a surgeon’s experience and expertise, as well as their up-to-date knowledge of current best practices and cutting-edge research.
For Diplomate surgeons, ABOMS Board certification is an important stamp of approval which verifies they are a trusted provider: patients take comfort in the fact that a board certified surgeon has earned the most important credential in the field, and their expertise, ethics, and qualifications have been evaluated by our oral and maxillofacial certifying Board. Board certification especially matters to patients who need detailed procedures to address functional and aesthetic problems of the mouth, face, and jaw: it is a sensitive area that requires functional mastery of hard and soft tissue manipulation, as well as skill with cosmetic aspects that are critical to procedures offered by oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
By becoming a Board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you will also gain membership into an elite organization of dedicated surgeons—a network of standard-bearers in the field which will be an excellent resource to you throughout your years in practice.