Should dentists be permitted to perform facelifts?

Lawmakers in some states 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. This subject has caused considerable controversy in the medical community, with tough opposition to this type of legislation from plastic surgeons. Doctors are not even in agreement among themselves about who should do facelifts, since specialties other than plastic surgeons often do facelifts. Frequently, dermotologists are engaged in doing extensive facelift surgical procedures. There are also overlapping areas of procedures between oral surgeons and medical doctors specializing in the area of the ear, nose and throat (ENT).

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 their respective entrance exams for those schools. Both medical and dental schools are four year programs, but each type of school has a very different emphasis. Medical school students learn functioning and treatment of the entire body, whereas dental students learn diagnosis and treatment of the mouth and how it is related to the rest of the body.

Your Seattle Cosmetic Dentist or Bellevue Cosmetic Dentist is required to complete a residency of three or four years after completion of dental school in order to become an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons are instructed in the removal of teeth, sectioning and 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 plastic surgical procedures related to the face are taught in many oral surgery residency programs, as well as sedation and 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. Frequently, a medical doctor will do a residency in oral surgery.

Oral surgeons currently are permitted to perform many facial surgeries. So are plastic surgeons only against legislative extension of what oral surgeons can do because they are protecting their territory, rather than any public safety issue? After all dermatologists can do facial plastic surgery without having done any formal plastic surgery residency and they do good work and are accepted by the public. Although most of us would like a quick, clear–cut answer regarding oral surgeons, the debate is not a simple one. Oral surgeons with the sufficient required training and experience should be as competent to perform certain facial plastic surgeries the same as a medical doctor. However, any oral surgeons performing facial plastic surgeries should be held to the same regulations and standards as a medical doctor doing facial plastic surgery. Having facial plastic surgery that was not performed by a plastic surgeon, people probably would feel more confident with an oral surgeon holding both an MD degree and a DDS degree. Most people probably would choose a plastic surgeon MD as the doctor of choice for plastic surgery of the face. However, an appropriately qualified oral surgeon might be considered by some people for facelift procedures.