Becoming a maxillofacial surgeon is a long journey with many hurdles. It requires extensive training, surgical expertise, and unmatched knowledge of aesthetics. A maxillofacial surgeon is considered the surgical specialist of the dental profession. They are qualified to deal with all oral conditions, defects, injuries, and visual aspects of the mouth.
So, if you want to become a maxillofacial surgeon, brace yourself for a long, wearing education and practice journey.
This article discusses the scope of training for people looking to become oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
Entry to Maxillofacial Surgery
Entry to this prestigious profession is highly competitive. You will need to have A levels or the equivalent in biology and chemistry with impressive grades in most cases. Some dental courses require you to have good grades in physics and mathematics.
For you to qualify to be a maxillofacial surgeon, you must have studied medicine and dentistry. Dental schools require at least two years of college-level pre-dental training, irrespective of the major you choose to pursue. Oral surgery students must have a bachelor’s degree in medicine or dentistry.
Training at dental school includes a 4-year curriculum, pursuing a degree in Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Within the four years, you should attend several internship programs in recognized dental clinics. You will also sit several end-of-semester exams and do a final project before you graduate.
After dental school, you will be required to go for a four-year hospital-based surgical residency program. Some maxillofacial surgeons choose to pursue an advanced degree, while others prefer to complete a fellowship in sub-specialty areas while they are on a residency program. On average, you will have to spend at least 12 years of education at the college and university levels before you can begin your maxillofacial practice.
Apart from surgical expertise, an excellent maxillofacial surgeon must have outstanding personal qualities such as enthusiasm, drive, organizational and communication skills, leadership skills, talent, hand-eye coordination, perfect vision, physical stamina, and the ability to evaluate situations in three dimensions.
Beyond the simple practicing license, you will need a certificate from the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. This certificate proves that you have achieved and continues to maintain the highest standards in the profession. For the board to certify you as a maxillofacial surgeon, you have to do a rigorous written exam and a lengthy oral test. You also have to provide a portfolio of cases showing your experience in the field of practice.