Do you have wisdom teeth that need to be removed? A jaw that needs realigning? These are just some of the procedures performed by an oral surgeon, which is a type of dental specialist. To find out more about oral surgeons and what they do, we interviewed Dr. Gregory Welsh of BayCare Clinic in Wisconsin.
1. What is your background in dentistry? Why did you decide to specialize in oral surgery?
I received my dental degree from The Ohio State University and completed my residency at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis. I thoroughly enjoyed my oral surgery training as I was able to have more one-on-one contact with patients. I would be able to sit down and discuss their treatment options before performing the procedure and also follow-up with them afterwards. To this day, I still personally call my patients the day after their procedure to see how they are doing.
2. What are the main procedures that an oral surgeon performs?
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery entails the entire facial region with a primary focus on the upper and lower jaws. Various procedures and issues we treat include: jaw infections, congenital and acquired jaw deformities, facial trauma, TMJ disorders, dental implants to replace missing teeth, tooth extraction, exposure of impacted teeth necessary for orthodontic therapy, oral cancer and other related diseases of the mouth. Every day is different and I truly enjoy having the variety.
3. What is the most common procedure that you see?
The most common procedure would be dental extractions due to any number of reasons: failed restorations, decay or sometimes trauma. Patients are already anxious when coming to our office so we do our best to put them at ease before starting the procedure. Interestingly, statistics show that nearly 70% of adults over the age of 35 have at least one tooth missing and 25% of adults over the age of 65 have all of their teeth missing. A large portion of my practice revolves around restoring and replacing these missing teeth. Dental implants are becoming the standard of care as more and more patients understand the benefits that implants can offer.
4. Are there any signs that might tell a patient they need to see an oral surgeon?
We work closely with our referring dentists, orthodontists and physicians. Since we are a 100% referral based practice, we rely on our colleagues to know when to refer their patients to our practice. Much of our day is spent in consultations discussing treatment options and educating the patient who is then subsequently scheduled for their procedures. However, it’s common that we will need to see patients on an immediate, urgent or emergent basis due to infection or trauma. In any instance, we do everything possible to make sure they will receive the maximum benefits from their insurance company.
5. Do you have any advice to offer to patients who are nervous about having surgery?
One of the best pieces of advice I have is “don’t believe everything you hear.” There are countless “tales” of oral surgery experiences. However, the reality is oral surgery can be very comfortable due to advancing anesthesia techniques and the experience of your oral surgeon. It’s easy to get caught up in those stories, but patients typically leave our office feeling little discomfort and pleased that it went better than expected.
Thank you, Dr. Welsh, for taking the time to answer our questions. To find out more about oral surgery or Dr. Welsh’s practice, visit his website or Facebook page.
Thanks for sharing this article! It really feels fantastic after reading such an interview from a dignitary from same field. A must read for the beginners. Keep motivation :)
The Anesthesia Experts amongst the dental profession are Dentist Anesthesiologists – by working with all dentists/specialists we provide a much safer alternative for sedation/anesthesia for dental/surgical procedures. Allowing your dental surgeon to focus on the procedure results in efficacy and improved results. As the true dental implant specialists of the dental profession, periodontists can benefit greatly be working with a dentist anesthesiologist. Access to restorative dentistry for both pediatric and adult patients also increases as a result of the dentist anesthesiologist. Lastly, while oral surgeons have training to a “familiar” degree regarding anesthesia, the advanced training and knowledge of a dentist anesthesiologist working along side them is clearly in the patient’s best interest.
I’m 28 and about a year and a half ago I had 5 implants pleacd. And yes they cost me about 2500 a piece. I have excellent teeth but I was born with a condition called hypodontia. Is basically means that I’m born with an incomplete set of teeth. I miss a total of 9 of my adult teeth and they gave me 5 implants to fill gaps. They actually had to pul three milk molars which had remained since there were no adult teeth underneath. Just wanted to say that is isn’t always due to bad teeth. Love them
Thanks for sharing, Michael!
Hello Dr. Welsh,
How has the advent of new technologies helped your profession? In particular CBCT? Do you find patients are more at ease because of the 3d rendering that they can see?