What Exactly is a Pediatric Maxillofacial Surgeon?

reasons for pediatric oral surgery

According to ACOMS (American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons), “Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to recognize and treat a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. They are also trained to administer anesthesia and provide care in an office setting. They treat problems such as the extraction of wisdom teeth, misaligned jaws, tumors and cysts of the jaw and mouth, and to perform dental implant surgery.”

Pediatric maxillofacial surgeons specifically focus on children who fall within this definition. Since children are growing and developing all the time, procedures like bones grafts for wisdom teeth, cleft palate repair or facial trauma surgery are extremely specialized. Pediatric maxillofacial surgeons work on infants a few weeks of age, all the way up to kids of about 18. This field of oral medicine is very specific and often involves very delicate, detailed surgical work. An oral surgeon who works with kids has to find solutions that will grow with the child’s body.

Cleft Lip and Palate Repair

Between 1 in 1600 and 1 in 2800 babies born in the US have a cleft lip and/or palate. This is a congenital defect that can usually be ID’d via an ultrasound during late pregnancy. A pediatric maxillofacial surgeon will usually repair a cleft lip as early as a surgery can safely be performed. A cleft palate will usually be repaired before age 2. These surgeries include bone and soft tissue work in and around the mouth, and are usually followed by non-invasive treatments like later speech therapy.

Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Pediatric maxillofacial surgeons are also the people who usually perform wisdom teeth removal in older children. You can get a wisdom teeth extraction at any age, but it’s typically done in late youth/early adulthood. This is a relatively simple procedure, but can be complicated by impaction, root issues and jaw issues, which is why a special wisdom tooth doctor and not a regular dentist performs these procedures.

Surgery to Repair Facial Trauma

Facial trauma surgeries are tricky. Depending on the extent of the facial damage, someone may need simple dental implants for a few missing teeth, or a full mouth reconstruction that includes jaw repair, bone and soft tissue grafting, as well as a lengthy recovery process. Pediatric maxillofacial surgeons specialize specifically in facial trauma in kids, as they need surgical solutions that will grow with them, to avoid more surgeries down the line.

Dr. Puckett specializes in all these categories of surgery and more, and is also fully trained in anesthesia techniques. Any questions? Give us a call at 937-382-8020.