A Career in Oral Surgery

The GDC currently recognises 13 various fields of dentistry with regards to their specialist register. You are not required to join a specialist list to practise a specialty, however, only dentists on these specialist lists have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title. In this series of articles you can find out more about each specialty from experts in their respective fields, with advice on the career pathway as well as sharing their experiences as a specialist.

Oral Surgery involves the treatment and ongoing management of irregularities and pathology of the jaw and mouth that require surgical intervention. This includes the specialty previously called Surgical Dentistry.

In the following article, Dr Kurt Naudi, Consultant in Oral Surgery, discusses how you can establish a career in the specialty.

Dr Kurt Busuttil Naudi | DDS, MEd LTHE, BChD, FDS RCSEd, MFDS RCPS, MSurgDent, PGCAP, FHEA

Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery

University of Glasgow Dental School

I graduated BChD from the University of Malta in 2001. I then went on to work as a House Officer and later as a Senior House Officer at St Luke’s Hospital, Malta. I then moved to Glasgow and was a Senior House Officer within Glasgow Dental Hospital & School during which time I obtained the MFDS from the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow . In 2005 I was appointed as a Specialist Registrar in Surgical Dentistry and successfully obtained my MSurgDent from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 2008. I was appointed as a Clinical University Teacher in Oral Surgery at the University of Glasgow in 2009.

I obtained a Doctorate in Dental Surgery from the University of Glasgow on Bone Bioengineering for Mandibular Reconstruction in 2011. In 2012 I completed my Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice and became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2013 I was promoted to Senior Clinical University Teacher in Oral Surgery at the University of Glasgow and in 2014, following interview, I was promoted to Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery. Also in 2014 I obtained a Masters in Education in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from the University of Glasgow.

A Career in Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is one of the recognised specialties in dentistry. It deals with surgical procedures related to the mouth such as removal of wisdom teeth, exposure of impacted teeth, biopsies and cyst enucleation, periradicular surgery and the surgical aspects of implantology.

The remit of oral surgery is:

  • Extraction of teeth & retained roots/pathology and management of associated complications including an oro-antral fistula
  • Management of odontogenic and all other oral infections
  • Management of impacted teeth; management of complications
  • Peri-radicular surgery
  • Dentoalveolar surgery in relation to orthodontic treatment
  • Intraoral and labial biopsy techniques
  • Treatment of intra-oral benign and cystic lesions of hard and soft tissues
  • Management of benign salivary gland disease by intra-oral techniques and familiarity with the diagnosis and treatment of other salivary gland diseases
  • Insertion of osseointegrated dental implants including bone augmentation and soft tissue management
  • Appropriate pain and anxiety control including the administration of standard conscious sedation techniques
  • Management of adults and children as in-patients, including the medically at-risk patient
  • Management of dento-alveolar trauma and familiarity with the management and treatment of fractures of the jaws and facial skeleton
  • Management of oro-facial pain including temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Clinical diagnosis of oral cancer and potentially malignant diseases, familiarity with their management and appropriate referral
  • The diagnosis of dentofacial deformity and familiarity with its management and treatment
  • Diagnosis of oral mucosal diseases and familiarity with their management and appropriate referral
Pros & cons of a career in Academic Restorative Dentistry
  • Practical specialty with opportunity to achieve outcomes rapidly.
  • Significantly in demand.
  • Can be very rewarding.
  • Significant involvement with undergraduate teaching.
  • The training pathway towards becoming a consultant is still in a state of flux.

Busy, very varied specialty that is rewarding and can be exciting too.  People who are practically minded and have good patient skills, as well as good manual dexterity would find it interesting.

I chose Oral Surgery because I liked the practical aspect of the profession.  I like to get rapid solutions to problems and I also enjoy the patient interaction.  I find it very rewarding to be able to relieve a patients discomfort and help re-establish their confidence in dentistry.  I always enjoyed anatomy as a student and found that oral surgery allowed me to apply my anatomical knowledge.  I also always enjoyed the surgical aspects of all the specialties I worked in. 

Just being in it! Every day is a school day.

No.  It has been a lot of very hard work getting where I am now but it has been worth every minute.

A typical week in Oral Surgery

Surgical removal of a wisdom tooth, release of a tongue tie, incision and drainage of an intraoral abscess, treatment of patients under intravenous sedation, consultation on patients referred from practice, taking a phone call from a distressed dentist who has just fractured the maxillary tuberosity, mentoring and teaching undergraduate students as well as junior staff. Due to my university roles I also have significant undergraduate and postgraduate administration responsibilities.

Specialty training pathway

You are not required to join a specialist list to practise oral surgery, however, only dentists registered on the GDC held specialist list have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title in the UK.

To be granted entry to the list an applicant must have been awarded a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) as a result of completing a GDC approved training programme, with a dedicated national training number (NTN).

Entry Requirements

  • BDS or equivalent
  • GDC registration
  • A minimum of two years post-graduate experience (General Professional Training). This may include DF1/VT, DF2/CT1, GPT/LDFT, i.e. at least 12 months experience of hospital dentistry and 12 months of foundation training in general practice
  • MFDS/MJDF/MFD

Securing a training post can be quite competitive so anything that enhances your CV will help like a postgraduate degree, publications, audit, research etc.

It is strongly recommended to check the essential and desirable criteria listed in the person specification provided for specific specialty training posts (StR). An exemplar person specification can be found in the ‘Further Information’ section at the bottom of the page.

Training Pathway

Please refer to the useful link below at the RCSEng. The formal training is usually 3 or 4 years long and at the end of the training the trainee is allowed to sit an exam and if successful is awarded a CCST (Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training).

Just like most other specialties Oral Surgery training tends to follow either an NHS or an Academic route.  But due to the fact that many people who do OS training tend to be heavily involved in the academic aspects many will have completed a doctorate degree, either during their training or prior to starting their training.

Yes, I did a DDS (Doctorate in Dental Surgery) during my specialist training which helped me get into the academic route.

Career options after specialty training

Work as a specialist in a High Street Practice, work as a specialty dentist in a hospital environment or work as a consultant in a hospital environment. Most people involved in OS get involved in the academic side so like myself become senior lecturers/teachers.

Be keen, and make people aware that you are keen. Try to enhance your CV as I mentioned earlier.  Try to get some rotations in Oral Surgery or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery departments after you graduate to get experience and to confirm if this is the right job for you.

Further Information

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