Career Path

How Long Does It Take To Become An Oral Surgeon?

Specialists in both medical and dental surgery make up oral and maxillofacial surgeons. 


In contrast to regular dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons must have both a medical and dental degree to practice. 

Consider several things if you’re thinking about becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. 

To help you decide if becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the right career path, this article will explain who these professionals are, what they do, and how long it takes to become an oral surgeon. 

We’ll also address some frequently asked questions about the job.

This article also answers the question; How long does it take to become an oral surgeon?”

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What is an Oral Surgeon School Like?

Attending a Dental school and several years of medical residency rotations are prerequisites for oral surgeons. 

There are four years of dental school, the last two of which are spent on residency rotations. 

As a result, you spend six years rotating through an oral surgery training program—two years during your last two years of medical school and four years following graduation. 

As a result, your training will span around six years if you enroll in a program alongside dental school. 

Your training will span roughly four years if you attend after graduating from dental school.

Is Attending an Oral Surgeon School Worth It?

1. A Growing Need

The need for dental care is rising along with the population in the United States. 

Changing healthcare laws and the expectation of more positions being left empty by retirees are two further factors that contribute to the rising demand for additional dental professionals. 

Dentist employment is predicted to grow by 16 percent between 2012 and 2022 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is faster than the average growth rate for all other occupations in the country.

2. A Rewarding Career

Dentists can practically change the lives of their patients by conducting corrective treatments, enhancing bites, filling in tooth gaps, and providing pain relief through extractions and fillings.

By providing their services to communities and people that cannot afford or access dental care, dentists also have a unique opportunity to improve the quality of life in their local area. 

Some dental professionals donate their time and expertise to treat patients at public health clinics, while others go abroad to spread the word about preventive care and give aid to those in need.

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3. Numerous Career Options:

Although the majority of dental school graduates open general dentistry private practices, the field offers a wide range of career opportunities for dentists, including academic pursuits, work in a hectic hospital emergency room, taking on clinical positions abroad, conducting advanced research in a lab, offering consultation, and authoring textbooks. 

These opportunities can be pursued at any point in a dentist’s career.

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4. Being able to Run a Business

Almost 90% of dentists provide care in private practices, with varying degrees of autonomy and scheduling freedom from opening a dental office. 

Additionally, there is a good likelihood of maintaining a successful self-employed business. 

According to one study, dentist clinics were the third-best category for start-up enterprises with the highest chance of success.

5. A Successful Loan Repayment History

Despite the high expense of dental education, statistics reveal that the profession comprises a group of professionals who generally have a strong track record of effectively managing loan payments. 

Most dentists make enough money to pay off their debt in less than 14 years. 

For instance, ABC News placed the profession of a dentist as #11 out of 20 top vocations with the best return on investment, noting that if a graduate made the median wage of $149,310 and paid back $14,931 ($10 percent of salary) per year, it would take 13.75 years to pay off $139,298 in debt.

Additionally, some dentists can repay their college loans faster by enrolling in loan repayment plans that lower their balances in exchange for helping populations that need dentists. 

Dentists can also pursue academic dentistry and research possibilities in exchange for having their school loan debt reduced.

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What Schooling Do You Need to Be an Oral Surgeon?

You can learn how to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon by completing the steps below:

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

All aspiring dentistry and medical students must hold a bachelor’s degree. 

You can prepare for dental school and surgical training by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in pre-med studies or by choosing one with a strong emphasis on biology, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, and mathematics.

2. Complete and Succeed on the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

You must take and pass the DAT before applying to dental school since it assesses your knowledge of biological and physiological concepts and your capacity for logical thought, comprehension, and math. 

After passing the test, you can enroll in dentistry school.

3. Enroll in Dental School

Students can apply for a four-year dentistry program after completing the DAT. 

The criteria for admission to each school can differ. However, they usually include the following: 

  • Completing a minimum number of science courses as an undergraduate 
  • Achieving a DAT passing score 
  • Responding to inquiries in a face-to-face interview 
  • Completing a questionnaire for the application
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4. Complete Dental School

The length of your dental education program, which focuses on general dentistry practice, procedures, and other areas of the profession, may be up to four years. 

To complete many programs, students must complete internships where they can practice their skills with dental patients. 

You graduate from dental school with a degree in either dental medicine (DDM) or dental surgery (DDS). 

Both entitle you to practice dentistry; however, to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you must complete additional training and earn a medical degree.

5. Successfully Complete a Surgical Residency

In addition to earning your medical degree, which you require in addition to your DDS or DDM to practice, completing an approved residency program enhances your training in oral and maxillofacial surgery. 

A four- to six-year residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery must include at least two years of medical school. 

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons also conduct clinical rotations to help them use their education and experience and prepare for their professions.

6. Obtain a State License

After receiving your dental and medical degrees, you can apply for a state license to practice. 

Learning the specific standards for the state where you intend to operate is crucial because their licensure requirements can differ. 

To become certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS), oral and maxillofacial surgeons must typically take and pass the Oral Certifying Examination (OCE). 

You can start your career once you have your practicing license.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Oral Surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are not good candidates for students who want to finish school quickly due to the extensive educational requirements. 

A residency can last four and six years after completing four years of undergraduate study and four years of dentistry school. 

Dental school applicants do not need to have a specific university major. Still, they must have achieved acceptable academic standing and taken several science courses, such as biochemistry, physics, biology, organic chemistry, and general chemistry. 

The Dentistry Admissions Test (DAT) must be passed following the completion of a four-year degree before continuing to four years of dental school.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Oral Surgeon?

Between universities, there are big differences in the price of dental school. 

Although tuition for dental programs at public colleges varies depending on whether students are from one state or another, public institutions are less expensive than private ones. 

According to Student Debt Relief, in-state residents paid an average of $251,233 for four years of tuition at public colleges in 2019, whereas out-of-state students paid an average of $321,575 for four years. 

This cost does not cover living expenses or additional fees; it only covers the cost of tuition. 

2019 saw an average tuition of $328,261 for residents and $334,242 for non-residents for four years of dental school at private colleges.

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The price of dental assisting and dental hygiene programs varies by institution. 

The cost of receiving an associate degree at a community college is less than that of earning a bachelor’s degree, partly because it takes less time to complete but also because community colleges charge less each year than universities.

Salary and Job Outlook for Oral Surgeons after Study

According to Indeed’s salary guide, the average annual compensation for surgeons in the United States is $282,016.

However, this figure can vary greatly based on the type of surgery performed. 

Due to the intricate and delicate surgeries oral and maxillofacial surgeons undertake on the teeth, jawbone, and face, they often make more money than general surgeons. 

Furthermore, your pay may differ based on your location, the length of time you’ve been practicing oral and maxillofacial surgery, and the caliber of your qualifications.

The projected job increase for general dentistry is 3% between 2019 and 2029, roughly equivalent to the growth of other occupations combined, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Oral surgeons and oral and maxillofacial surgeons are included in the 4% expected career outlook for surgeons.

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To practice their profession, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, often known as oral surgeons, must successfully finish 10 to 12 years of study. 

A two- to a four-year undergraduate degree is sometimes needed for dental schools. 

The ability to obtain an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree allows dental apprentices to enroll in dental school. 

Programs leading to an associate’s degree typically last two years, whereas bachelor’s degrees often last four. 

Oral surgeons must enroll in a four-year dentistry school program after completing their undergraduate studies. 

Also, they will finish a great deal of classroom instruction and clinical training over these four years.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the Canadian training period for oral surgeons? 

The six-year curriculum, which combines the MD and MS degrees, is in duration. The graduate studies, medical, and oral and maxillofacial surgery programs are all included in program acceptance. In London, Ontario, at St. Joseph’s Health Care and the London Health Sciences Center, this program is housed.

How challenging is training to be an oral surgeon? 

It can take four to eight years to finish the demanding training. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons enjoy excellent job satisfaction despite the challenging educational requirements for the position.

What do you call a face surgeon? 

A wide range of illnesses and injuries affecting the head, neck, mouth, jaw, and face can be treated by maxillofacial surgeons, often known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

What portion of dental school is the most difficult? 

Being a dentist is one thing, but running your own business is an entirely different game you must learn how to play. The most challenging aspect, in my opinion, as an undergraduate is maintaining self-control while preparing for the DATs and completing all of the challenging core science courses.

How are oral and maxillofacial surgeries different from one another? 

Both oral and maxillofacial surgeons fall into this category. Although training includes oral and maxillofacial surgery, some surgeons only do oral surgery and office-based treatments, while others favor more hospital-based operations.

How likely am I to be admitted to dental school? 

Around 5% of applicants are accepted on average by US dentistry schools. 
It costs around the same to enroll in an Ivy League undergraduate program. 
With the same pre-med coursework as medical school applicants, the average GPA is 3.5. Additionally, it would be best if you got a DAT score in the 75th percentile.



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