Maxillo-facial and oral surgeons are plastic surgeons concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck. They perform surgery and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial regions to treat diseases, injuries or defects.
They specialise in the reconstruction and surgery of the face, nose, mouth, jaw and related head and neck structure in order to execute difficult and multiple extractions of teeth, to remove tumours and other abnormal growths, to correct abnormal jaw relations by mandibular or maxillary revision, to prepare the mouth for the insertion of dental prostheses, or to treat fractured jaws.
In more detail, they administer general and local anaesthetics, remove impacted, damaged and non-restorable teeth and evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth to determine whether problems exist currently or might occur in the future. They perform surgery to prepare the mouth for dental implants, and to aid in the regeneration of deficient bone and gum tissues. They treat infections of the oral cavity, salivary glands, jaws and neck and treat problems affecting the oral mucosa, such as moouth ulcers and infections.
They perform surgery on the mouth and jaws to treat conditions such as cleft lip and palate, and jaw growth problems. Oral surgeons restore form and function by moving skin, bone, nerves and flesh from other parts of the body to reconstruct the jaws and face and perform minor cosmetic procedures such as chin and cheek-bone enhancements, and minor facial rejuvenation procedures including the use of Botox and laser technology. They may treat snoring problems, using laser surgery.
Maxillofacial surgeons provide emergency treatment of facial injuries including facial lacerations, intra-oral lacerations and fractured facial bones.
The scope of this speciality is extensive and includes the diagnosis and management of facial injuries, head and neck cancers, salivary gland diseases, facial disproportion, facial pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, impacted teeth, cysts and tumours of the jaws, as well as numerous problems affecting the oral mucosa such as mouth ulcers and infections.
Maxillofacial and oral surgeons frequently collaborate with other specialists including orthodontists, restorative dentists, oncologists, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and ENT surgeons.
The work environment is mainly indoors, in hospitals, clinics, or in well-equipped and well-lighted consulting rooms.
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.
Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who would naturally be given preference.
MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN:
South African Society of Maxillo-Facial & Oral Surgeons
Fax: 086 657 9893
Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205, Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300
Fax: (012) 328-5120