An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a specialist who deals with the diagnosis, treatment and care of injuries to do with the mouth, face, neck and jaw. There are overlaps between dentistry and medicine and this is mirrored in the teaching that is given in order to enter this profession.

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon would need to deal with the treatment of conditions such as diseases of the saliva glands, tumours and cancerous conditions. This is a branch of medicine that is continuing to develop, with the level and type of treatments improving all the time. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon would need to have had training in both medicine and dentistry, requiring a great level of effort and dedication.

Work activities

Typical activities would include:

  • Analyse and update patient records to ensure they are given suitable levels of care and treatment.
  • Need to work on both hard and soft tissue.
  • Use tests such as physical examinations, x-rays and MRI scans to determine the extent of injuries and treatment needed.
  • They would need to deal with conditions such as facial traumas and temporomandibular joint disorders.
  • Discuss the treatment process with patients and ensure they are at ease.
  • An oral and maxillofacial surgeon would need to keep up-to-date with any new developments in both medicine and dentistry.
  • Dexterity and hand-eye coordination would need to be maintained.
  • Be on call for any medical emergencies.
  • A maxillofacial surgeon would need to conduct surgery about three or four times a week, and spend the rest of their time updating paper work, dealing with outpatients and helping new attendants.
  • Research may need to be conducted and papers written.

Essential skills

  • Keen interest in both dentistry and medicine.
  • A professional and organised manner.
  • Able to work at your best in difficult and stressful situations.
  • Build and maintain an excellent level of rapport with patients in order to put them at ease.
  • An extensive knowledge and aptitude for the sciences.
  • A real desire to help patients get better.
  • Desire to keep improving and studying in order to keep up-to-date with new developments in the industry.
  • Able to work as part of a medical team and as an individual.
  • Help to teach and pass on your wisdom to other surgeons.
  • Know your level of skill and limitations.