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For Patients & Visitors

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery - A 'Mouthful' Yet Unique Surgical Specialty in SG

By Dr John Loh
 
12/3/2021 12:00 PM

Nestled within the dental fraternity of Singapore, is the specialty of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS).  This specialty, while a mouthful to say, does not involve cleaning and the filling of teeth or make dentures, but instead many other unique cases.

Who are OMS Practitioners?
There are currently over 80 OMS specialists in different stages of training distributed across the different institutions and private practices in Singapore. Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons possess a myriad of sub-specialty expertise, such as dental implants, jaw surgery, treating facial injuries and also cancer of the head and neck. While all are dentists, only some possess the medical qualifications to handle specialised cases.

Often times there is an overlap of the areas of work with the other medical/surgical disciplines, resulting in OMS practitioners working closely with different surgical and medical disciplines. However, each specialty brings to the patient a unique aspect of the treatment process. For example, the OMS specialty could also provide the patient with teeth after a jaw surgery to remove a cancer of the mouth.

To celebrate and recognise the contributions of OMS practitioners, International OMS Day is celebrated yearly on 13 February. The Asian OMS Congress, a keystone OMS meetings, was to be held in Singapore for the first time, however COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated it to become a virtual meeting this year.

Opening new frontiers
Amongst the many fronts OMS is spearheading now is in the area of Orthognathic Surgery and Mouth Cancer surgery.

Orthognathic surgery (OGS) is surgery of the jaws and facial bones to better reposition the jaw so that the teeth can bite together in a more ideal position for better chewing ability. This surgery can also be done to improve the facial profile and the aesthetics of the patient's face.


3D Printed Mandible (with added support bar) for Oncology surgery planning

Using 3D imaging and advanced computer simulation, the planning for OGS is computerized. The patient's facial structures are generated for OMS surgeons to plan the surgery in detail, with reliable simulation of the different steps that are needed. It also allows for meaningful and in-depth discussion with the patient before the actual surgery even take place.


Example of 3D Vitrual Surgical Planning

One other significant area is the treatment of cancer in the mouth and tongue. Previously, it was found that lifestyle habits, such as smoking and alcohol imbibement was a major cause of such cancers. Recent research by the specialty has now suggested that there is a link to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), previously restricted to cervical cancer.

While a highly preventable disease, early detection is the only effective evident based mode of treatment for cancer of the mouth and tongue. Hence, a need for greater public awareness is key to help to treating these forms of cancer, a goal the OMS specialty is pushing towards.

Please visit the Faculty of Dentistry website or the Association of OMS Singapore (AOMSS website aomss.org.sg) for more information about OMS.