What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and Oral Surgeon?

There are many different types of dental care providers, from dental hygienists to general dentists, to specialized dentists (like periodontists and endodontists), oral surgeons, and so on. While each type of dental care provider has the same goal – keeping your teeth healthy, there are some key differences between the types of care offered by each provider.

In general, your child should visit a qualified general dentist every six months. If there’s something particularly unusual about your child’s oral health, the dentist may refer you to a specialized dentist or an oral surgeon.

Does My Child Need a Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

It depends on the type of procedure required. General dentists perform routine procedures, including fillings, root canals, check-ups, and more. In some cases, when things aren’t typical, an oral surgeon steps in.

An oral surgeon is a dentist who specializes in less common procedures, like dental implants, jaw joint disorders, chronic facial pain, and, of course, oral surgeries. Oral surgeons study alongside general dentists for the first few years and then spend an additional four to eight years specializing.

Procedures often performed by oral surgeons include:


  • Simple tooth extractions
  • Complex tooth extractions (that include bone)
  • Impacted tooth removals
  • Soft tissue removal
  • Implant alignment
  • Tumor removal

dentist smiling with boy in shades

What Do General Dentists Do?

While general dentists can perform some oral surgeries, like tooth extractions, general dentists typically spend most of their time on:

What to Expect from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is usually a one-day appointment. Most procedures require local anesthesia – where the area is numb, but the patient is awake. In rare cases, general anesthesia may be required.

An oral surgery appointment is a multi-step process. There’s often some same-day testing before the procedure. At some point during the appointment, someone will talk to you about aftercare. You’ll have time to ask questions, and you should take advantage of that. Knowledge is power – and who better to ask about healthy oral hygiene habits than a professional at an oral surgery center?

Take Your Child to a Kool Smiles Kids Club Partner Dentist Near You

If you’re looking for a great dentist or oral surgeon, look no further. Kool Smiles partner dentists are well-versed in the special techniques required in providing dental care for children. Our partners are friendly, patient, gentle, and knowledgeable about kids’ oral health.

Our partner dentists aim to create family-friendly environments where children (and parents) can forget about the inevitable apprehension that comes with any sort of healthcare appointment. Our partners can help make sure your child looks forward to their next routine exam.