Becoming a cosmetic surgeon in India requires a postgraduate degree in oral surgery and then super specialization in cosmetic surgery. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Rajah Muthiah Institute of Health Sciences, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, India is one of the most expanding specialties in the country. However, there is a lack of understanding of the scope of the specialty. To assess the knowledge of maxillofacial surgery in India, a questionnaire was given to 250 people from different backgrounds.
The results showed that while facial trauma and deformities were recognized to be treated by maxillofacial surgeons, other maxillofacial problems were not. This highlights the need to promote the specialty among dentists, physicians, and the general public. In India, to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, one needs to have a bachelor's degree in dentistry followed by a 3-year program in oral and maxillofacial surgery. In some European countries and certain US states, one needs to have undergraduate degrees in medicine and dentistry before embarking on training in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
The scope of the specialty has also increased tremendously compared to previous years, where it was mainly limited to dentoalveolar surgery and basic maxillofacial trauma. Currently, dentoalveolar surgery, maxillofacial trauma, head and neck pathology (both benign and malignant), cleft lip and palate, bone grafting, facial deformity correction, craniofacial surgery, facial cosmetic surgery, TMJ surgery, implant surgery are just some of the subspecialties treated by maxillofacial surgeons in India. The study was conducted at the Rajah Muthiah Institute of Health Sciences to assess current levels of awareness of the specialty (maxillofacial surgery) in Indian society. The results showed that while facial trauma and orthognathic surgery were recognized to be treated by maxillofacial surgeons, wisdom teeth were thought to be treated by general dentists instead.
For cleft lip and palate, between 60-76% of dental professionals and 26-28% of medical professionals opted for an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment. None of the medical students thought that maxillofacial surgeons treated oral cancer cases. Overall, all study groups were unclear about the scope of the specialty and its capabilities. This may be due to an emphasis placed during training in the management of maxillofacial trauma during the MDS.
Therefore, there is a need for education to improve visibility of the specialty.