What does an oral surgeon do?

Oral surgery (or maxillofacial surgery) is a highly specialised and very demanding branch of dentistry. Oral surgeons normally work as part of a team with other dentists, surgeons and orthodontists and perform a vast range of surgical procedures:

  • Removing wisdom teeth
  • Inserting dental implants that have to be screwed into the jaw bone
  • Removing cysts and tumours from the face, head or neck
  • Treating abnormalities in tooth and jaw growth
  • Treating serious facial injuries and facial infections
  • Dealing with cleft lips and palates
  • Treating diseases related to the face, head and neck
  • Performing reconstructive surgery after facial injury
  • Correcting joint disorders
  • Treating jaw bone disorders

What skills and qualifications do you need to become an oral surgeon?


Oral surgeons need to have an extremely high level of dental and medical expertise, as well as a high level of manual dexterity in order to be able to perform complicated procedures.


To become an oral surgeon, you need both a degree in dentistry and a degree in medicine, which normally requires 4 years of training in dentistry, followed by an additional 4 years of medical training, combining study with practical work experience in a hospital. This will broaden your medical knowledge and develop your surgical skills. The majority of people who want to go into oral surgery have their first degree in dentistry, but it is also possible to become an oral surgeon if your first degree is in medicine.

Career Prospects

Oral surgery is a highly skilled job and top oral surgeons are highly sought after. Oral surgeons work in hospitals as part of a wider medical and dental team or can work in their own practice. Lots of oral surgeons also go into teaching and research.

British Association of Oral Surgeons (BAOS)

What is the BAOS?

This organisation represents the interests of all oral surgeons and the advancement of oral surgery in the UK (membership registration fees apply).

What does the BAOS do?

  • Promotes on going research and development of oral surgery in the UK
  • Actively encourages postgraduate education in oral surgery
  • Provides information about teaching and training
  • Arranges regular lectures, seminars and an annual conference for oral surgeons
  • Shares information and cooperates with other organisations to promote the interests of oral surgeons