Finding an oral surgeon doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but you’ll want to conduct research in two basic ways. First, consult with your dentist. They’ll likely have a shortlist of their preferred surgeons in the area or may be able to perform the procedure in-office. Second, spend time online conducting enough research to ensure you’ve made a sound decision. We’ve compiled a series of steps to take to help you find the right oral surgeon to help you manage your unique needs.
Create a Dialogue with Your Dentist
Since your current oral care provider has immediate access to your dental history, it makes them highly qualified to determine next steps for any procedures you may need. This means they can pair you with an oral surgeon who has specific proficiencies in the areas required, rather than the closest surgeon to your home or office. Your dental office may also be able to help you find someone who will work with your insurance since you’re already in their system.
Ask your dentist the following questions if they suggest an oral surgeon:
- Why are you recommending this person?
- Does he or she have any specialties or specific background that pair with my diagnosis?
- Would you recommend this surgeon to a family member of yours?
Get Online and Search with Purpose
While the Internet is a level-set playground for those with opinions to share, it is also a leading source of information that can help you decide which oral surgeon to select. There are thousands (over 9,000 to be exact) oral surgeons in the U.S., so you’ll have plenty to choose from. But this also means you have to enact some serious research methods to break down the often minute differences among them. You can search websites for individual surgeon ratings. Visit popular review sites like Yelp for peer reviews, and then decide whether a particular surgeon appears to meet your needs. The Internet will help you to uncover any potentially negative concerns with a surgeon or their office.
Match Experience to Your Needs
Perhaps you’re about to undergo a dental implant procedure, or you’re looking for someone to address a nerve condition, structural problem with your jaw, or perform reconstructive surgery. You will want to interview a potential surgeon, or at least investigate their proficiencies through their website, to ensure their areas of strength coincide with your medical needs. A surgeon who is new to the dental implant field may not be the right choice – even if they are offering a discount to attract new patients. Focus on finding those who offer the right balance of experience and pricing. If a surgeon states that he or she specializes in all areas of oral surgery, ask for specific cases where they had to perform an operation like your upcoming surgery.
Contact Your Insurance
One of the quickest ways to eliminate a potential oral surgeon from your list of candidates is by cross-checking them against your dental insurance coverage plan. Call your insurance and see who is covered in your local area. Then, use the remaining surgeons as your unedited list of potential candidates. Although you certainly can use an out-of-network surgeon, the costs are often quite prohibitive – especially if you’re about to have an invasive or complicated surgery.
Find Out Where the Surgery Will Occur
Most oral surgery procedures happen outside of the dentist’s office and in a healthcare facility like a clinic or hospital. When you ask your oral care surgeon where the surgery will take place, you’ll have the background information needed to consider the facility. Is the hospital highly rated and accredited? Does it support enough staff to make your visit as safe and comfortable as possible? Do the surgeons and medical team members have experience conducting surgeries like yours, and what are the general outcomes? You’ll want to feel as comfortable with the medical facility as you do with your surgeon. Don’t be afraid to share concerns and ask questions.
Check the Surgeon’s Education
We all assume surgeons are of the educational elite, and that their credentials are infallible, but a study just a few years ago uncovered a billion-dollar industry that peddled fake degrees – some of them for doctors and other professionals! Do some research on the educational achievements and memberships of your potential surgeon before committing. Your surgeon should be a member of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, which requires graduation from an accredited dental school and state licensing in the area in which he or she actively practices. Recent grads may have less experience than surgeons with years in the field, but they may also be better informed about the latest technological advances in oral surgery. Keep in mind that any oral surgeon will have spent at least four years training during their residency program.
Oral surgery isn’t something that we deal with daily, so take some time to research a potential oral surgeon to ensure he or she is the right fit for your needs. Doing so will help to provide you with the safest and most comfortable experience possible when faced with the prospect of oral surgery.