A topic of recent conversations that has raised some eyebrows is whether or not dentists should be permitted to perform facelifts.

Lawmakers in California and Colorado are considering the passing of bills that would allow dentists, more specifically oral surgeons, to carry out facelifts and rhinoplasty (nose jobs) in addition wisdom teeth removal and other procedures typically performed by oral surgeons. Not surprisingly, this subject has caused a remarkable amount of controversy in the medical community, with tough opposition from plastic surgeons.

One should know the education and training of each type of professional, in order to better understand the matter and make an informed decision. Pre-dental and pre-medical students usually take the same types of classes in college, including biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and the associated lab classes. To matriculate into medical or dental school, prospective medical and dental students must also take the respective entrance exams for those schools. Both medical and dental schools are four year programs, each with a different emphasis. Medical school students learn functioning and treatment of the entire body, whereas dental students learn the entire body and how it relates to treatment of the mouth.

A dentist in Bartlesville is required complete a three to four year residency (a six year program after completion of an MD degree) in order to become an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons are instructed in the removal of teeth, sectioning & repositioning of the jaws, reconstruction of the jaw and facial skeleton after traumatic injury, biopsy of suspicious lesions, repair of cleft palates, and the performance of a multitude of other invasive procedures. Rhinoplasty and other facial plastic surgical procedures are taught in many oral surgery residency programs, as well as IV sedation & general anesthesia.

The required training to become a plastic surgeon includes completion of a three or more year surgical residency after completion of their MD. When this is accomplished, the surgeon must then complete and additional plastic surgery residency program of 2 or 3 years to become a dentist in Bartlesville.

Should regulations be changed so oral surgeons would be permitted to perform facial plastic surgery? Are plastic surgeons only against this practice because they are protecting their territory? Although most of us would like a quick, clear-cut answer, the debate is not a simple one. I believe that an oral surgeon with the required, sufficient training and experience should be allowed to perform certain facial plastic surgeries. These oral surgeons should obviously be held to the same regulations and standards as plastic surgeons when performing similar surgeries. If I were having facial plastic surgery that was not performed by a plastic surgeon, I would feel more confident in the abilities of an oral surgeon who also holds an MD degree. Although most people would consider a plastic surgeon the doctor of choice for plastic surgery of the face, perhaps an appropriately qualified oral surgeon should also be considered competent for the procedure.