When it comes to your dental health, many patients aren’t aware of the differences between a dentist vs. oral surgeon in California. Which you should see depends on your oral health care needs. Understanding the skills of these two types of dental professionals will help you make an informed decision for your family’s needs.


A Doctor of Dental Surgery is the degree awarded upon graduation from dental school; in other words, a DDS is a general dentist. You may have noticed that some general dentists have the letters DMD, rather than DDS, after their names. DMD stands for Doctor of Medicine in dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine, depending upon the university offering the degree.

A dentist who has a DDS degree has the same basic education as DMDs, which is typically four years of full-time study in anatomy, physiology, oral pathology and preventive dentistry. Throughout the course of their studies, they also get hands-on training in diagnosing and treating dental issues through practical clinical experience.

Dentist vs. Oral Surgeon in California: How Do They Compare?

An oral surgeon – also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon – is basically a dentist who has a broad range of specialized training in multifaceted dental issues.

When comparing a dentist vs. oral surgeon in California, one of the variants is education. Earning a degree in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) requires the completion of a four-to-six-year surgical residency program that is hospital-based. Studies are focused on techniques and procedures involving abnormalities in the jaw and facial structures.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also complete training in the administration of anesthesia, including intravenous (IV) sedation, nitrous oxide and general anesthesia.

Dentist vs. Oral Surgeon in California: Who Should You See?

Like a family doctor who can handle a variety of health care issues, a general dentist can diagnose and treat most basic dental problems. In fact, many patients see a dentist as a first point of contact for oral health care issues. And for routine exams and cleanings or simple procedures, such as a filling or crown, a general dentist may meet your needs.

However, serious dental issues may exceed the scope of a dentist’s expertise. When comparing a dentist vs. oral surgeon in California for specialized care, look to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. They are qualified to treat a range of problems, including wisdom tooth complications, impacted teeth, facial injuries, congenital defects, jaw misalignment and bone loss in the jaw.

These dental professionals also treat a variety of chronic conditions and diseases, including neck and head cancer, sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Patients who need dental implants or tooth extractions also need the care and attention of an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Determining who you should visit – dentist vs. oral surgeon in California – isn’t always easy. If you are unsure, contact our office today to schedule a consultation so we can identify your best option.

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