How is an Oral Surgeon Different Than a General Dentist?

tooth implants La Mesa

Let’s discuss the similarities and differences between a general dentist and an oral surgeon.

Undergraduate Studies

To start, you need a four-year undergraduate degree. Few dental schools require a specific discipline, but many aspiring dentists major in a scientific field such as biology, chemistry, or anatomy.

How Do You Get Into Dental School?

To get into dental school, you must take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Then you start applying to dental schools. Being accepted into a dental program is no small achievement. You need a high college GPA and a good score on the DAT.

Dental school usually takes four years. To graduate, a student must pass a series of exams at the national and state level before earning a dental degree.

Depending on the state, a dental school graduate may need to pass an additional clinical exam.


When a dentist graduates, they either earn a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of (Medicine in Dentistry).

You Need Even MORE School to Earn a Specialty

When a dentist graduates from dental school, they can pursue a specialty degree.

The American Dental Association (ADA) certifies the following specialties:

  • Oral surgeon
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Endodontist
  • Orthodontist
  • Oral radiologist
  • Oral pathologist
  • Prosthodontist
  • Public health dentist

What is an Oral Surgery Residency?

Dental specialty programs run from two years to six years. This type of training is called a “residency”. While a DDS or DMD is undergoing specialty training he/she can practice general dentistry.

Some six-year oral surgery residency programs provide a medical degree as well as an oral and maxillofacial certification.

Oral surgery residencies are offered through teaching hospitals. The training occurs in a hospital setting. This is a critical difference between dental school and a specialty residency. Dental school instruction does not occur in dental practice.

Let’s Do The Math

When an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is finished with schooling, he/she has from 8 to 10 years of post-college instruction!

Some General Dentists Provide Surgical Procedures

Many general dentists provide surgical procedures such as tooth extractions. However, many will refer a patient to an oral surgeon if the extraction involves an impacted wisdom tooth or another complication.

Some general dentists, cosmetic dentists, and periodontists provide implant services.

However, an oral surgeon has the most training and experience in dental implants and all other types of oral surgery.

The 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. The American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons


Contact Jeff Gray DDS – Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

8555 Fletcher Pkwy Ste 102
La Mesa, California


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Obstructive Sleep Apnea in La Mesa: You Should Take Snoring Seriously

obstructive sleep apnea in la mesa

Snoring isn’t just an annoyance. It can have major health consequence for yourself and sometimes even your partner. For information on obstructive sleep apnea, call Jeff Gray DDS at 619-337-7700.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is caused by an obstruction that restricts the flow of air in the throat. The obstruction can be caused by:

  • Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue—when muscles relax they can collapse onto the airway (Alcohol use and sleeping pills can increase the likelihood of this happening)
  • Thick throat tissue—Excess weight can be a contributing factor
  • Swollen tonsils and adenoids—Most common in children
  • Long uvula or soft palate
  • Nasal congestion
  • Deviated septum

Individuals who snore may have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea in La Mesa, a serious health condition in which your breathing lapses while you are snoozing. This can occur hundreds of times at night. If your snoring keeps your bed partner from sleeping, his or her health is also impacted. Failure to get enough restorative sleep contributes to a plethora of physical and mental health conditions. Most of us have experienced difficulty concentrating when we haven’t gotten enough sleep, but did you know that lack of sleep can limit a person’s motor function and reaction time as seriously as intoxication can?

Other possible health problems related to insufficient sleep include heart disease, obesity, depression, and diabetes. You may be asking yourself, “so why is a post about snoring and sleep deprivation in a dental blog?” The answer is that our team specializes in obstructive sleep apnea in La Mesa, along with cosmetic and sedation dentistry. We can treat either of these potentially dangerous conditions, so if you suspect that you suffer from either snoring or obstructive sleep apnea in La Mesa, we invite you to request an appointment today.

Contact Jeff Gray DDS – Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

8555 Fletcher Pkwy Ste 102
La Mesa, California

Your Health Issues May Signal Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea dentist La MesaWhat is sleep apnea? It’s a potentially health-threatening condition in which your breathing periodically stops while you sleep. Jeff Gray DDS can treat your sleep apnea  for residents of San Diego, La Mesa, or El Cajon.

Suspect you might have sleep apnea? Read through these common symptoms. They may help you determine if you need to go see your medical doctor.

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Excessive Snoring
  • Gasping While Sleeping
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Dry Mouth/Throat
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with your memory/forgetfulness

Having one of these symptoms is typically fine. But if you have more than one, you might want to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are three different types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea describes a condition where your throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to control your breathing. The final type is called complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type occurs when someone has a combination of the two previously listed.

If you are diagnosed as having obstructive sleep apnea, make sure you research all treatment options. Oral appliances can treat some forms of sleep apnea. Treatment can ease your symptoms and help prevent heart problems and other issues. Jeff Gray DDS and his San Diego dentist team have sleep apnea treatments available that are proven and safe, and have helped patient after patient to stop sleep apnea in its tracks and get a good nights rest. Call us today to start sleeping better tomorrow.


Contact Jeff Gray DDS – Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

8555 Fletcher Pkwy Ste 102
La Mesa, California


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