Patients often assume the only difference between the oral procedures dental practitioners perform and those that maxillofacial and oral surgeons do, is that MFO surgeons charge more than the former. This can’t be further from the truth and could cost a patient dearly especially with regard to particular oral or facial procedures.
As a minimum requirement, a South African MFO surgeon must complete a five-year dentistry degree followed by a five-year postgraduate hospital-based residency training programme. Not all candidates follow the same route to becoming an MFO surgeon. Some candidates enter the residency programme with a medical degree and need to still complete a three-year dentistry degree, other candidates may enter the programme with both the dentistry and medical qualifications in hand.
The postgraduate training programme includes rotations in general surgery, intensive care, trauma, plastic and reconstructive surgery, ophthalmology, ear, nose, and throat surgery, paediatric surgery and oral pathology, with dedicated clinics in orthognathic surgery, implantology, oncology, temporomandibular joint surgery, pre-prosthetic surgery and oral pathology, implantology, craniofacial surgery and facial clefts including cleft lip and palate. Click here for a full list of procedures.
Dental practitioners are skilled and knowledgeable about overall oral health and are trained for correcting a variety of dental issues, like dental restorations and associated ailments, root canals, dental crowns or denture fitting issues.
Although MFO surgeons also perform some of these procedures, they have undergone specialist training to address more complex dental and medical issues associated with the head, mouth, jaws, and neck, and can perform more extensive surgeries in both hard and soft tissue regions, correcting a range of minor and major skeletal and dental deformities, including the misalignment of facial structures and teeth. This also includes correcting trauma of the face, facial cleft deformities, orthognathic deformities, doing reconstruction, and treating tumours and cancers, temporomandibular joint problems and facial pain.