You can find the right oral surgeon with a little research and a little help from the pros.
Whether it’s searching for someone to fix a broken jaw or someone who will finally get rid of your troublesome wisdom teeth, you can find someone to suit your needs. Your dentist and insurance company can help you find your person.
Talk to Your Dentist
Your first stop should be with your regular dentist, who may have suggested surgery in the first place. He’s very likely to have a recommendation. If your dentist recommends an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, he’s talking about someone who can treat disease and injuries of the areas around and in your mouth.
After he gives you a name, ask him these questions.
- Why do you recommend this surgeon?
- What are his specialties?
- What’s this surgeon’s background?
- Would you go to this surgeon?
Check Out Your Insurance
You can find doctors that are in your insurer’s network by calling them or visiting their web site. Most companies will list doctors by specialty and show you where their offices are.
Make a list, cross-check it with any recommendations you get, and go from there.
You can choose out-of-network doctors, too. But that usually costs more.
Hit the Internet
There are more than 9,000 oral surgeons in the United States. So if you don’t have a regular dentist who can recommend an oral surgeon, and friends or family can’t help you out, take advantage of the web.
Lots of sites rate surgeons and their offices. Remember, though, you have to read the patient reviews critically. To one person, someone who’s all-business has no bedside manner. To another, that same professional is great because he’s all-business.
Web sites can also give you background on the doctor, too. Education, experience, professional affiliations, and more are probably at your fingertips.
Make sure you choose a doctor who is board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. To be certified by the ABMS, your oral surgeon needs to meet high standards in education, experience and skill level.
Does Your Doctor Fit Your Need?
Find a specialist who has experience in the surgery you have to have. Dental implant surgery is different than jaw alignment, also called orthognathic surgery.
Many web sites can help you get specific. If the doctor’s specialties aren’t listed -- many will simply say “oral surgery” or something generic like that -- do another search.
Look for the doctor specifically. See if you can track down a site for the hospital where the doctor works or the doctor’s office. These places may list specialties and have a short biography on the doctor.
Get a Feel for Your New Doc
Ask for an introductory appointment. When you meet your prospective surgeon, ask questions like:
- Is surgery really necessary?
- What kind of experience do you have?
- What are some success stories and your failure rates?
Where Will the Surgery Happen?
It’s important to look into where your surgery will take place. Make sure the hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office is accredited, highly rated, and has experience dealing with surgeries of your type.
If you can’t find the information online, ask the office for it. Make sure you look for information about the staff and how it cares for patients.
It takes a little effort to find the right oral surgeon. But if you do your homework, you’ll have a much better chance of finding the doctor who’s right for you.