Why Consider a Career in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?

Apr 12, 2023

Board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons are highly-specialized in diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries, and other issues of the face and neck and can offer services and procedures that most dental and aesthetic surgery practices aren’t equipped to offer. The oral and maxillofacial field is highly specific—and the technology and treatment protocols for treating the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, jaw, and neck are complex and constantly evolving. 

Whether you are a dental school graduate or a surgeon looking to broaden the scope of your practice, here, we share a few reasons to consider a career in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

A specialized, high demand field equals job stability

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are true specialists and benefit from choosing a narrower focus than general dentistry. While general dentists may branch out into simple endodontics, orthodontia, and implant placement, there are significant limitations as to what a dentist can treat. The substantial differences between a dentist and a maxillofacial surgeon make it clear that added oral & maxillofacial training is a worthwhile pursuit. 

When you become an oral & maxillofacial surgeon, your skillset will far surpass those of a general dentist. You may choose to treat facial and cranial deformities, infections and cancers of the head and neck, or severe malocclusions that require more than simple orthodontics. You’ll also be trained in anesthesia, airway maintenance, and possibly intubation—techniques that most general dentistry practices are not equipped to handle. As such, you’ll be more in demand, with fewer competitors, compared to general dentists.  

Additionally, aesthetic plastic surgeons often seek specialized oral & maxillofacial education and training to incorporate more specialized and transformative facial cosmetic procedures in their practices.  

Sub-speciality options

In general, oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat conditions surrounding the teeth and temporomandibular joint and may perform a range of related procedures as part of on-call emergency trauma treatment or scheduled outpatient surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons see a variety of case types but many opt to narrow their specialty even further with fellowship-training after an oral and maxillofacial residency. Options include:

Facial cosmetic surgery

A cosmetic oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs a number of transformative procedures such as rhinoplasty, ear reconstruction, brow and eyelid surgeries, and a variety of facelift techniques. These procedures are often cosmetic but they can also improve and restore functions of the head and face for patients in nearly all stages of life.       

Cleft and craniomaxillofacial surgery

This subspecialty focuses on treating congenital craniofacial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Treatment plans for these conditions are extremely nuanced and often complicated but offer life-changing results for the patients—many of which are small children. Many cosmetic and facial plastic surgeons expand their scope of practice to include cleft and craniomaxillofacial surgery.

Head and neck oncology

Surgeons specializing in head and neck oncology treat tumors in the mouth, throat, head, and salivary glands. As cancers of the head and neck can be particularly disfiguring, training in this area will likely include a focus on reconstructive surgery aspects as well. We often see ENT surgeons add this subspecialty to their practice and it is a viable option for oral and maxillofacial surgeons as well.   

Income generation 

According to U.S. News, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon ranks #5 in best paying jobs and #7 in best healthcare jobs for 2022. Though your salary as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will be influenced by a number of factors, you can generally expect to be well-compensated for your specialized expertise. 

Career satisfaction

Those who choose to specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery find satisfaction in diagnostic complexities and multifaceted surgical treatment plans that must be skillfully implemented. The work of oral and maxillofacial surgeons is usually higher risk than general dentistry and aesthetic surgeries; you’ll also be able to serve as surgeon and anesthesiologist when appropriate. 

These increased responsibilities come with high rewards for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, whether they are focused on cancer treatment, emergency reconstruction, cleft & craniofacial issues, or cosmetic procedures. In all cases, working with these patients transforms lives for the better and thus provides much satisfaction.

OMS surgeons will also have the opportunity to join the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), a prestigious and growing community of OMS surgeons that supports its members' practices through education, research, and advocacy. 

Become a board-certified Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) meet the highest standards in their specialty, stay abreast of the latest advances in technology and patient care, and demonstrate a mastery of skills needed to restore function and achieve aesthetically pleasing results. If you would like to learn more about becoming a board-certified Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, we invite you to explore your options on our website and to contact us with any questions.