Lake Norman Oral & Facial Surgery • Dr. Raymond J. Haigney II • 9727 Northcross Center Ct. Huntersville, NC 28078 (704) 987-3132

9727 Northcross Center Ct. Huntersville, NC 28078 (704) 987-3132

The Difference Between Dentists and Oral Surgeons

Patients have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to their dental care. It can be difficult to determine which type of dental professional is best suited to meet your needs. Oral surgeons and dentists are similar in many ways, however, knowing the differences between the two can help ensure you are educated and make the right choice for dental care. Most patients will visit a dentist before seeing an oral surgeon as a referral is often needed.


Both general dentists and oral surgeons complete dental school after obtaining their bachelor’s degree. Dental school is typically a four year program and focuses on the following studies: anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and oral surgery. In addition to dental school, dental students also complete a clinical practicum. This allows them to receive hands-on training in the diagnosis and treatment of common dental issues. After completing dental school and earning the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, a general dentist must complete an exam before they are allowed to practice dentistry.

Oral surgeons (also known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons) complete an additional four to six years of surgical residency. The program must be accepted by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in order to ensure the resident receives proper training in oral pathology, anesthesia and oral surgery. Following the surgical residency, an oral surgeon must pass a board certification exam.

Do I Need a Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

To avoid serious dental issues and maintain good oral health, everyone should visit their dentist every six months for a preventative cleaning and exam. To determine if a patient’s issue requires treatment from a dentist or oral surgeon, it is helpful to understand specifically what oral surgeons do.

Dentists typically refer their patients to an oral surgeon when the dental work required for treatment is outside of their scope of work. Oral surgeons specialize in dental implants, jaw joint disorders, facial pain, and surgery such as the removal of wisdom teeth.

Other procedures performed by oral surgeons include:

  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Tooth extractions (simple and complex)
  • Soft tissue biopsy, repair and removal
  • Jaw or implant alignment
  • Removal of tumors
  • Cancer surgery

What Do General Dentists Do?

While general dentists are qualified to perform some minor oral surgeries, general dentistry most commonly includes the following:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Dental exams
  • X-rays
  • Gum care
  • Fillings
  • Crowns
  • Sealants
  • Root canals
  • Bridges
  • Dental implants

What to Expect from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is usually completed in a single day using a local anesthetic. When visiting the dentist or oral surgeon, patients are encouraged to ask questions, understand the procedures and follow the dental professional’s recommendations. Oral hygiene is crucial both before and after surgery.

Our Practice

If you are looking for a dentist or an oral surgeon, we can help. Our professional team is patient, friendly and knowledgeable. Our goal is to ensure that patients are comfortable and fully understand the procedure or treatment plan. Our office is clean, comfortable and spacious to ensure you are at ease during your visit.

More on Oral Surgery : What is the Recovery from Oral Surgery?

Contact Today

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

Patient Testimonial

"Words cannot express enough, how wonderful, caring and professional Dr. Haigney and his staff are! After being rushed to the Huntersville hospital with an orbital fracture, broken nose and other facial damage, Dr. Haigney rushed me into surgery (on his day off I must add) and corrected all my problems. I only wish all doctors cared as much about their patients and their recovery as Dr. Haigney and his staff did. Thank you so much for everything! Your attention and compassion has helped me make my recovery as comfortable as possible. 5 star service!"