Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgeon

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.

Personal Requirements

  • patient and kind
  • tactful and diplomatic
  • able to remain calm, with a steady hand
  • able to put nervous patients at ease
  • accurate and meticulous
  • able to make quick decisions in a crisis

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science 
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences

  • Pass matric with a Bachelor's pass
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university
  • All applications for admission to MBChB and Medical degrees are subject to selection.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.

What to Study

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN:

  • Theoretical training: 6 years
  • Student internship: 1 year
  • Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).
Post-graduate study, 2 years - Wits, UP, UWC, UL for specialisation.

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialisation as a maxillo-facial and oral surgeon the candidate must:
  • be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
  • be registered as a medical doctor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for 1 year.
Registration: On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the HPCSA as a maxillo-facial and oral surgeon.


  • hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities
  • private practice
  • education and government departments
  • state departments

Further Information

South African Society of Maxillo-Facial & Oral Surgeons

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) 
(553) of Hamilton and
Madiba Streets,
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 338-9300

Getting Started

  • speak to a maxillo-facial and oral surgeon about this career
  • read up on plastic and reconstructive surgery, specifically regarding the face, jaw, etc
  • do a first aid course with St John Ambulance, for example

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer