While many dentists are generalists, most have the expertise and knowledge needed to perform some forms of surgery. If a given dentist cannot treat a particular problem, they can refer patients to a trusted specialist.
Dentists can often perform some kinds of oral surgery
According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, general dentists are required to attend continuing education courses and workshops, and many have developed expertise beyond that of a dental degree. While not all general dentists perform these procedures, they often can place implants and perform oral and maxillofacial (face and jaw) surgeries.
They can offer referrals
Even if a general dentist cannot perform the type of oral surgery needed, the practice can still help patients find a qualified oral surgeon in the area. According to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, many oral surgeons (though not all) require a referral from a dentist or physician.
A referral from a general dentist has some advantages. Namely, after a procedure, the patient’s primary dentist can take on the aftercare needed. In the event of infection or other complications, a general dentist will be equipped to act quickly.
They are often familiar with patient history
Many patients have a regular dentist who they see for routine care. When this dentist also performs needed surgical procedures, it means that the dentist is familiar with the patient’s dental history. If a given patient is prone to post-surgery infections or other complications, the dentist will know from experience and can act accordingly.
Cost and convenience
Often, though not always, seeing a general dentist is more convenient than visiting a specialist. In many cases, seeing a general dentist is also a cost-saving measure.
Dentists may be able to see patients faster in an emergency
For patients experiencing a painful tooth infection or other urgent dental issues, waiting to see a specialist often is not feasible. Generally, the wait time to see a general dentist is much less than the wait time needed to see an oral surgeon. Even if a patient’s regular dentist is unavailable, an emergency dentist can usually make an appointment quickly. They may also be able to provide antibiotics, pain relief, or other temporary measures to keep dental pain at a reasonable level.
It is often less expensive to see a dentist
This is not an absolute rule, but generally speaking, a specialist visit will cost more out of pocket than a general dentist visit. For patients with insurance, it is important to verify that a given procedure is covered.
Oral surgery can be a major undertaking, and it is important to carefully consider your options before proceeding. However, it is worth investigating whether a general dentist can perform the necessary procedure.
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