Whether you’re just considering finding teeth aligners or wisdom teeth extraction, choosing to go for dental surgery is a big decision. If you are looking for a dental surgeon in Singapore on your own, the sheer number of choices may seem overwhelming.
Sometimes, you might not even know whether you do need a dental surgeon; shouldn’t a dentist be enough? Such fears and uncertainties are common and I hope to share my knowledge of the dental field with you.
As a dentist and a dental surgeon, I wrote this article to help you choose when and which dental surgeon to see so that you receive the best treatment you can!
What is a dental surgeon? Is it the same as being a dentist?
Both dental surgeons and dentists are broader terms used for all who practice dentistry. As a dentist and a dental surgeon, my responsibilities are:
- Diagnosing oral diseases
- Promoting oral health and disease prevention
- Creating treatment plans to maintain or restore oral health
- Interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests
- Administering anesthetics and ensuring patient safety
- Monitoring growth and development of teeth and jaws
- Performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity
What is the difference between a dental surgeon and a dentist?
Dental surgeons and dentists are professionals who are involved with the oral health care of their patients. Most people are treated by a dentist during their lifetime. They are certified to attend to most of your dental needs.
However, there are times where your dentist will refer you to a dental surgeon for more complex cases that may require surgery.
What special training do you go through to be a dental surgeon? Is there a special certification?
Dental surgeons are recognised as one of the seven types of dental speciaties in Singapore.
On top of their basic bachelor's degree— Bachelor of Dental Surgery— dental surgeons have to go through an additional two to four years of additional advanced training such as the Masters of Dental Surgery(MDS).
In Singapore, dentists who wish to practice as dental specialists are required to register under the Singapore Dental Council .
As a dental surgeon, I diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and defects such as:
- The Mouth
- Skull regions
What are some things patients do that make surgeons’ jobs harder? And what about those makes it easier?
I see patients coming into my clinic who, when I ask for their dental routine, would let me know that they brush their teeth but always skip the floss. Flossing is important as it helps to remove the plaque buildup on teeth and along the gum line. This prevents cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Many of my patients tend to rely on mouthwashes since it is able to kill 99.9% of germs. They often feel that mouthwashes are sufficient. With that, they tend to neglect a proper dental routine. Mouthwash is not as good as flossing as it is unable to get into the hidden places between teeth. Apart from that, it is mainly used to remove bad breath. One should never place less importance on flossing compared to brushing teeth.
Do you observe any dental-related trends in Singapore?
Clear aligners, braces, teeth whitening
Over the last few years, there has been an increase in people wanting to align their misaligned teeth. Therefore, they tend to resort to doing braces or clear aligners. Having aligned teeth is great as it is easier to eliminate harmful bacteria. These bacteria can be found along the gum line and getting rid of them lowers your risk of developing gum disease. As your gums get weaker, there is a higher chance that you will experience tooth loss.
There is also an increase in advertisements for teeth whitening on social media. However, it is good to note that these products may cause future problems. For example, the gels initially placed in the UV whitening tray may get into your gum. These gels contain potent chemicals. When the gel comes into contact with your gums for a period of time, it will cause a chemical burn to your gums. This will cause soft tissue or gum irritation. Over time, you might cause gum recession to occur. This is crucial as there is no such thing as gums growing back. Gum recession will eventually cause bone or tooth loss.
When should I visit a dental surgeon?
You should see a dental surgeon when you need a certain procedure done a certain way, such as wanting or needing deeper levels of sedation when having your wisdom teeth pulled out. I will describe some of these situations below.
A dental implant is an implant that replaces the roots of your missing tooth. It is one of the treatments that replace missing teeth.  With screw-like devices, your doctor will insert an implant into the jawbone which acts as an anchor for an artificial tooth called a crown. These crowns are devices used to cover and strengthen damaged teeth. Placing dental implants in a patient's jawbone requires careful planning and complex oral surgery techniques.
While dentists are licensed to perform dental implant surgery, some might feel that such procedures are beyond their expertise and refer you to other dentists or dental surgeons. Dental surgeons have practiced placing dental implants during their training and will generally feel that dental implants are within their expertise.
Note that many factors affect whether you need a dental implant. Genetic predispositions can affect our dental health that affects whether or not you require such implants.  For instance, you may have a predisposition to tooth decay. No matter how hard you brush your teeth and visit the dentist, you may still suffer from tooth decay. So if there is a history of tooth decay in your family, you may want to see your dentist more often.
The alignment of teeth is the way that the upper and lower teeth fit together (called the ‘bite’). The upper teeth should fit slightly over the lower teeth . A malocclusion is a dental term for a bite problem. Bite problems are the most frequent reason for braces or orthodontic treatment. 
Ideally, your top and bottom set of teeth should fit together and form an accurate bite. All of your teeth should line up and your teeth should be straight and equally spaced. Most bite problems are inherited. Such conditions include:
- Differences in jaw size
- Poorly aligned jaws
- Crowded teeth
- Extra teeth
- Missing teeth
Accidents, tumors, or prolonged thumb sucking can also cause bite problems.
You need to see an orthodontist, a type of dental surgeon, for treatment of Malocclusion.
Wisdom teeth extraction
Wisdom teeth are the back teeth (molars) that come through last, usually in your late teens or early 20s. This is a normal part of youth development. There are four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. But some people have more, fewer, or even none at all.  Some wisdom teeth come through without causing any issues, but others are problematic and may need removal or other treatment.
Dentists are licensed to remove wisdom teeth. However, if you prefer someone with more training, if your dentist feels unequipped to do the removal, or if you want to be fully asleep during the procedure, you may go to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for treatment.  The difference is that dentists can only provide local anesthesia, which only numbs the area while you remain fully conscious, while dental surgeons can provide general anesthesia so that you are fast asleep.
Teeth aligners are also known as clear aligners. Clear aligners are removable braces. Typically, each set of aligners is worn for one to three weeks, as close to 24 hours a day as possible, except when eating, brushing or flossing, until it’s replaced by the next set. 
What treatments fall under dental surgery? What are the costs for all of the tests and treatments?
Cost of dental surgery treatment :
Cost: (average in public institutions)
Wisdom Tooth Removal (impacted)
Root Canal Treatment
Implant with Crown
Dental Crown (capping)
Is it insurance or Medisave-claimable?
Table of Operations
1A / 1B / 1C
$250 / $350 / $450
2A / 2B / 2C
$600 / $750 / $950
3A / 3B / 3C
$1,250 / $1,550 / $1,850
4A / 4B / 4C
$2,150 / $2,600 / $2,850
You can claim between $250 to $2,850 from Medisave depending on the complexity of your surgical procedure, but you cannot claim from Medisave if your treatments do not involve any surgery. 
How do I find the best dental surgeon for me in Singapore?
Your dentist’s recommendation
Your dentist might know of a dental surgeon who can assist you with the specific procedure that you need. He/she might be able to give you a name of someone who specialises in the condition that you have.
We all know education and training are extremely important. However, so is experience. I highly recommend finding a friendly and experienced professional who you can work with. Hearing about a great experience firsthand is very helpful, but online reviews are also a big help. Check to see what current and past patients are saying about your dental surgeon.
Insurance and financing options available
Another important thing is to check when choosing a dental surgeon is whether or not they accept your dental or medical insurance. You can usually find this information on your insurance provider’s website, or by calling the dental surgery office directly.
When you face dental problems that your dentist does not feel equipped to handle, or you feel you want someone certified in certain dental procedures, you can turn to a dental surgeon. I hope you have learned when to see a dental surgeon and how much such treatments can cost. You can be assured that all dental surgeons are trained up to a certain standard with the Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) degree, so all you need to do is find one whose prices, manners, and skill you appreciate!
Dr Kenneth Siah finished his degree at NUS Dental school in 2001. After graduating, he served as a dental officer in the Singapore army forces where he dealt with community dental needs. The demand for functional occlusion treatments has pushed Dr Siah to explore and deepen his knowledge regarding dental implants and surgery. For that, he has participated in multiple courses and conferences, both in Singapore and overseas.