oral surgeon inspecting xrays of mouth

The time has come and you need an oral surgeon. Perhaps your bi-annual dental visit – yes, you’re supposed to go to the dentist twice a year – has revealed a more complicated health issue, such as wisdom teeth needing to be removed. Maybe you experienced facial trauma. Or maybe you need surgery to relieve obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.Before searching for “oral surgeon near me” in any search engine, consider the following tips from St. Luke’s OMS for finding the right oral and maxillofacial surgeon for you.

Work with Your Insurance and Dentist

Most people will see their dentists or physicians several times before ever requiring the need for an oral surgeon. But dentists and doctors make referrals every week, if not every day. Considering that any referral a dentist gives to an oral surgeon is in part a reflection of themselves, whomever they recommend will likely be a great place to start.

It’s also important to consider your insurance company. Depending on the procedure, it may or may not be covered by dental insurance or by your health insurance. Prior to any visit, reach out to your insurance provider to learn if the procedure and the doctor will be covered at all. Insurance websites also commonly have lists of approved providers, and the number that have reviews is starting to grow as well.

Ask a Friend or Family Member for a Recommendation

Many procedures performed by an oral surgeon are common for much of the populace. You’ll likely be able to find a person whose opinion you trust and has had a similar procedure done, or at least knows a great OMS physician. Word of mouth is great for a new restaurant, but it’s just as good for a doctor!

Questions to Ask an Oral Surgeon Near You at Your First Visit

Before deciding on your oral surgeon, remember that it’s great to see more than one if you’re uncomfortable with the one you initially meet. But to ensure that you’ll be happy with your choice, St Luke’s has some questions we think you should ask any oral surgeon.

What is His/Her Experience with the Procedure?

Practice makes perfect, and many oral surgeons develop specialties as their careers continue. Ask them to educate you on the procedure, and gauge how comfortable they are with performing it. A true professional will recommend a colleague if there’s any hesitation. It should raise a flag if an oral surgeon is evasive or unable to assure you in his or her knowledge.

Where Did He/She Study Oral Medicine?

Never agree to a procedure by someone who is unable to provide an accredited medical background. Dr. Wayne Saunders and St. Luke’s OMS team provide all medical backgrounds and affiliations on its website, so you can verify their exact levels of experience.

How Recent Were Continuing Education Courses Taken?

The American Dental Association and Pennsylvania both mandate that dentists and oral surgeons keep their knowledge of their fields and its latest procedures up to date. If your doctor isn’t up to date in his knowledge, chances are you have a better option available to you.

What is Your Treatment Plan?

Once you have been diagnosed, your doctor should lay out the course of treatment clearly so you know what to expect. If you are concerned about an aspect of his or her plan, another oral surgeon may have an alternative that is preferable.

How Much is My Procedure Going to Cost?

Oral surgeries, like all medical procedures, can be costly and few people can afford to pay in full at the time of the procedure. If your insurance is not going to cover the cost of your procedure, ask about third-party or internal financing options that are available.

What if I Have an Emergency After Surgery?

It may seem unlikely, but emergency complications can occur. Find out how easy it is to reach your surgeon or his or her colleague, particularly during off hours, such as the weekends.

Examples of Skills and Procedures Performed by an Oral Surgeon

The following is a list of some of the skills and procedures that your oral surgeon may perform:

Dental Implants

A dental implant is utilized as part of a cosmetic or restorative dental plan. An oral surgeon can help design and plan the placement of these implants, reconstruct the bone if required and modify the gum line around the dental implant for improved aesthetics of your smile.

Repairing or Treating Facial Trauma

Facial trauma is one of the many specialties that your doctor may undertake. An oral surgery can treat varying degrees of skin lacerations, set fractured facial and jaw bones, and repair severed nerves or tissues in the face.

Corrective, Reconstructive and/or Cosmetic Surgery

Many people will turn to an oral surgeon to correct jaw, bone and soft tissue conditions of the face. These may occur from facial trauma, growth removals or congenital defects. These often require organic material from other parts of the body to properly perform a reconstruction.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgical Treatments

If non-surgical treatments for your obstructive sleep apnea don’t work, an oral surgeon may be able to provide relief through surgical procedures. The most common procedures are: genioglossus advancement, which tightens the tendon in the front of the tongue to free up the throat from any obstruction by the tongue; maxillomandibular advancement, through which the jaw will be moved forward to clear room for your airways; and uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, through which the uvula and edge of the soft palate are partially removed to prevent the airway from collapsing.

Treating Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and Other Facial Pain Disorders

By studying the joints and symptoms of your facial pain, an oral surgeon may help diagnose the cause of frustrating facial pain. In some cases, he or she may refer you to other medical specialists or a physical therapist. Surgery also is an option.

Oral Pathology

On occasion, people develop cysts and tumors on their faces or in their mouths, as well as various infections throughout the head, neck, throat and salivary glands. Your oral surgeon should be able to examine and diagnose these conditions for potential cancers and severe infections.

Find the Right Oral Surgeon Near You in the Lehigh Valley

Avoid all the “oral surgeon near me” queries. St. Luke’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the Lehigh Valley has been setting the standard for proper oral medicine for more than 10 years. Under the guiding hand of their expert team of doctors, technicians and staff, you’re guaranteed to get the treatment you deserve. If you have a medical issue or questions that require the aid of an oral surgeon, contact St. Luke’s today.