oral surgeon doctor dental surgery

Should You See an Oral Surgeon or Doctor of Dental Surgery?

Is an oral surgeon the right specialist to see for mouth issues that may require surgical treatment? Or should you visit a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) instead?

Many patients aren’t sure which professional has the skill and training to provide the care they need. To make an informed choice between an oral surgeon and a Doctor of Dental Surgery, however, you need to understand the differences between the two.

oral surgeon doctor dental surgery

What Is a Doctor of Dental Surgery or DDS?

Simply put, a Doctor of Dental Surgery is a general dentist. That’s the degree many universities award upon completion of dental school. At other institutions, graduation comes with a DMD degree, which stands for Doctor of Medicine in dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine.

General dentists with DDS and DMD degrees have the same basic education, with at least four years of full-time study and hands-on training in dentistry. Dental practices provide a range of procedures, including:

  • Diagnostic exams and X-rays
  • Routine cleanings
  • Filling, crown and bridge placement
  • Simple tooth extractions
  • Root canals
  • Periodontal treatment
  • Teeth whitening and bonding

What Is an Oral Surgeon?

After graduating from dental school, an oral surgeon attends a hospital-based surgical residency program for an additional four to six years of specialized training. Upon completion, a degree in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) is awarded.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the best choice for complicated dental cases and surgical procedures. Treatments offered at an OMFS practice include:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction
  • Complex tooth extractions
  • Impacted canine correction
  • Dental implants
  • Jaw realignment
  • Bone grafting
  • Oral cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • Congenital defect correction
  • Sleep apnea surgery
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) surgery
  • Pre-prosthetic surgery

Which Dental Professional Can Provide the Care You Need?

If you are certain you need surgical treatment or specialized care, visiting an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a wise choice.

However, if you don’t know if surgery is in your future, you may want to see your general dentist first. Using first-hand knowledge of your clinical history, your dentist can assess the situation and determine an effective treatment plan. If that involves surgical intervention, you can expect a referral to a qualified oral surgeon.

Dentists in the greater east central Indiana area frequently refer patients to the professional team at Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.


Dr. Partridge and Dr. Alderman have extensive expertise in performing surgical procedures to treat problems related to the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery offers a full range of treatment services and our team takes great care to give every patient a comfortable, positive experience.

At Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we look forward to providing the care you need to preserve your oral health. For more information, or to schedule an oral surgeon consultation, contact us today.