Oral Surgeons as Cosmetic Surgeons and Their Scope of Practice : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

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Oral Surgeons as Cosmetic Surgeons and Their Scope of Practice

Keyhan, Seied Omid D.D.S.; Bohluli, Behnam D.M.D.; Bagheri, Shahrokh C. M.D., D.M.D.

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 145(1):p 218e, January 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000006357
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The specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery is occasionally subjected to a range of people from other disciplines who reproach the abilities of oral and maxillofacial surgeons. The recent article by Steven P. Davison, M.D., D.D.S., et al.1 is one that ignores the proper name of this specialty.

In 1918, the American Society of Exodontists was founded by dentally qualified surgeons. By 1921, a group of medically qualified “oral surgeons” founded the American Association of Oral Surgeons, which in 1931 would become the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, resulting in the disbandment of the American Medical Association’s section of stomatology in 1925. Also in 1921, the American Society of Exodontists changed their name to the American Society of Oral Surgeons and Exodontists. In 1946, the American Society of Oral Surgeons dropped the “Exodontist” qualifier from their name, and in 1947, the medically qualified group formed the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons. In 1977, the American Association of Oral Surgeons changed their name to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Thus, the term “oral and maxillofacial surgeon” in North America applied to a specialist of dentistry that may or may not hold a medical degree.2

Attaining an oral and maxillofacial surgeon degree in different countries is possible in a variety of ways: requiring only a dental degree; requiring both a dental and a medical degree; requiring a medical degree and no or minimal dental training; and requiring (in some countries) a combination of dental and medical education but not degree based (stomatology).3 Even in countries where it is possible to obtain a dental degree and/or medical degree, a 4- to 6-year3 residency program is one of the longest training programs among all major surgical disciplines, suggesting that these surgeons are in fact proficient in their specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery. Currently, post–oral and maxillofacial surgeon residency fellowship programs are available worldwide, both for the double-degree and for the single-degree surgeon. Along with the skill and proficiency of the surgeons in the field of clinical science, valuable publications by scholars such as William Harrison Bell, Bruce N. Epker, Joe Niamtu III, and Raymond J. Fonseca, who incidentally hold a single degree and have entered this specialty through dentistry, are themselves proof of the credibility and reliability of this academic discipline. Publications about such topics as dentofacial deformities, surgical-orthodontic correction,4 and cosmetic facial surgery5 are among those whose value and impact on the facial cosmetic procedure are indisputable. The claim of forcing oral and maxillofacial surgeons to obtain double degrees in this article is so strange and unreasonable, it is akin to the claim of compelling plastic surgeons to have a D.M.D. certificate!

In conclusion, we as oral and maxillofacial surgeons believe that oral and maxillofacial surgery and plastic surgery are “two eyes in a head.” Each one can function apart, but the collaboration and scientific interaction between these two fields can surely create more beautiful smiles and patient satisfaction.


This study was conducted by personal investment of researchers and no institution or organization was involved. None of the authors has a financial interest to declare in relation to this communication.

Seied Omid Keyhan, D.D.S.
Private practice
Saadat Abad, Isfahan, Iran
National Advance Center for
Craniomaxillofacial Reconstruction
Tehran, Iran

Behnam Bohluli, D.M.D.
Faculty of Dentistry
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Shahrokh C. Bagheri, M.D., D.M.D.
Northside Hospital and Augusta University Georgia Oral and Facial Reconstructive Surgery
Atlanta, Ga.


1. Davison SP, Hancock M, Sinkiat M, Enchill Z. Oral surgeons as cosmetic surgeons and their scope of practice. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019;143:872e–879e.
2. American Academy of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons. Future of North American oral and maxillofacial surgery. Available at: https://www.aacmfs.org/areas-of-interest/education-and-training/.
3. Laskin DM. The past, present, and future of oral and maxillofacial surgery. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2008;66:1037–1040.
4. Epker BN, Wolford LM. Dentofacial Deformities: Surgical Orthodontic Correction. 1980.St. Louis: Mosby.
5. Niamtu J. Cosmetic Facial Surgery E-Book. 2017.Edinburgh: Elsevier.


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