Selecting a Program

For the 2019-2020 academic year, there were 1,185 residents enrolled in 101 OMS accredited residency training programs. About 59 percent of the 384 individuals who applied for residency matched.


Single Degree Programs

OMS Certificate
(4 years/48 months)
Four-year training program in OMS defined by the standards and required of all programs.

MD Alternative
(5-7 years/60-84 months)
Four year certificate with MD (optional) OMS training program. The applicant is accepted into a four-year program and medical school if they qualify by advanced standing requisites. The medical education is a continuum following OMS training. Regardless of acceptance into medical school all residents must complete the four year training program.

Dual Degree Programs MD Integrated
(6 years/72 months)
The training program is greater than 4 years in length. The training program guarantees the applicant a place in medical school without advanced standing requisites and integrates medical education and 30 months of OMS training into the program.


Diversity exists within residency programs, including areas of interest manifested by individual programs. Answers to the following questions may be useful in selecting a program.

What is the total length of time of training in your program, and how is it structured?


Programs may vary significantly in length, although a minimum of 48 months of training is required. Some may extend to six to eight years depending on the amount of additional training provided.

Are other educational opportunities available such as a research track leading to a MS or a PhD degree?


A number of training programs offer specific post-training research tracks, as well as research programs, which can be initiated during training. These tracks that culminate in MS or PhD degrees may have particular interest for those planning a career in academics or research.

Is a medical degree available, and if so, is it an optional or mandatory (integrated) part of training?


Several training programs concurrently provide medical education resulting in the awarding of a medical degree. Some of these programs provide the medical training as an integrated part of their training and others as an alternative component available following completion of the 4 year training program. It is important for the applicant to understand the procedures for acceptance and completion of the medical degree. The resident is sometimes discharged if s/he fails to qualify for medical school.

What is the number of full-time faculty members and how many are board certified?


Resident/faculty interaction is an important part of training. Board certification provides some indication of the quality of these individuals as the examination is a rigorous written and oral examination taken following the completion of training. The program director must be board certified.

How many of the program's graduates have taken and passed the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery examination?


This may indicate to you the quality of residents who were graduating from a particular program. Currently, board certification is a criterion for gaining surgical privileges in many hospital and managed care organizations. To obtain information about the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS), you should write or call the ABOMS at: 625 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1820, Chicago, IL 60611 or 312-642-0070, www.aboms.org at least six months in advance of your anticipated date of completion of OMS training.

Is your program affiliated with a dental school?


Several programs have affiliations with dental schools, medical schools or both. All programs have a strong hospital component and some are based primarily in hospitals. These various avenues should be understood by the applicant and their advantages investigated.

Are post-residency fellowships available?


Some training programs offer additional research or clinical training beyond the resident level in certain subspecialty areas. These may include microsurgery, oncology, facial esthetics, pediatric oral and maxillofacial surgery, craniofacial surgery, etc. You must also inquire about the case load in these areas to ensure that the additional programs offered do not interfere with minimum requirements for training in a specified area of the specialty.

The availability of research, either current of projected, should be investigated.


Research is frequently an indication of the commitment of the faculty advancing the specialty through investigation. Often this provides opportunities for residents to develop an orientation toward research.

What is your current accreditation status?


The Commission on Dental Accreditation rigorously reviews and recommends the accreditation status of the OMS training programs at least every five years. It is important that the applicant understands the accreditation status of a program upon entering that program, and the influence of this on the residency training.

Is all of the training achieved in the primary institution?


Some training programs find it beneficial for their residents to rotate to other institutions for specific areas of training. This may be distant from the institution. Some program rotate residents out of the country for varying durations. There has been a recent attempt to provide exposure to other methods and philosophies of treatment by some training programs. These programs may offer rotations to foreign countries and you should inquire as to how these rotations fit into fulfillment of the current requirements for training as well as family commitments.

How does your training program interface with other specialties of dentistry?


Increasingly, the discipline of oral and maxillofacial surgery is interdependent with other areas of dentistry. For example, surgical orthodontic and surgical prosthodontic conferences are routine in many programs and provide didactic and clinical benefits.

How do I find out about available places to practice?


The AAOMS has a classified ad section in the AAOMS Today, published six times per year, with information about oral and maxillofacial surgeons seeking associates. In addition, the AAOMS Career Line offers residents access to job opportunities 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The resident can respond to posted jobs by generating a confidential mini-CV or sending an e-mail. Also, your program director and both full-time and part-time faculty are excellent sources of information. You are encouraged to write directly to the AAOMS members in the area in which you wish to practice.

Will I have to take the general state board examination to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery?


Most states require you to take the general dentistry examination in order to practice. However, a growing number of states are establishing reciprocity like the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA), which allows you to show a dental license in one state or region. Through this and other credentials you may obtain a limited specialty license to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery. The AAOMS encourages states to license oral and maxillofacial surgeons by credentials. Specialty licensure examinations are sometimes required. They are often given in June. If you do not obtain specialty licensure in states with these provisions, you will be unable to announce yourself as a specialist. It is prudent to contact the state board of dental examiners of any state you may be interested in to learn about the requirements six to nine months in advance. If you currently do not have a general dentistry license in any state, it would be a good idea to take a state or regional dental exam in the location that you desire to practice.

When and how do I apply for hospital privileges?


Once you have determined the locale(s) in which you desire to practice, you should get at least a six-month start on writing the hospital(s) to obtain privileges. Your operating privileges are granted on the basis of training, experience, and competence. Therefore, you need to have operative records as documentation for the privileges you seek. You must maintain a log of surgical cases performed during residency. This is especially true for all major oral and maxillofacial surgery privileges. Again, privileges will be granted based on education, training, current competence and experience, not based on degree(s). It is a good idea to contact the oral and maxillofacial surgeons on a particular hospital staff before you apply for privileges to gain their support. This is especially true if you are planning to apply for privileges for an area in oral and maxillofacial surgery that is not commonly performed at that hospital. Each individual hospital is governed by bylaws that may differ in their requirements. Commonly, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are part of the Department of Surgery.

Because a number of programs now offer an MD degree as an alternative or requirement, does this mean that OMS is leaving dentistry?


Nothing could be further from the truth. The AAOMS has stated that OMS is a recognized dental specialty and has been so for nearly 90 years. Most OMS get the vast majority of their referrals from other dentists, and dentoalveolar surgery is the mainstay of most OMS practices.

What are the requirements for medical licensure?


If you plan on entering a residency program which offers integrated medical education, you should ask the program director about the postgraduate training required to obtain a medical license in the state where the program is located.

What is USMLE and how does it affect me?


USLME is the United States Medical Licensing Exam. It is taken in three steps and is required for graduation from medical school and for acquiring a medical license. Step I is taken after your first or second year in medical school and covers primarily the basic sciences. Step II is taken sometime before you graduate from medical school and is more clinically oriented and Step III is taken after you graduate from medical school (usually after one year of residency). Most medical schools require that you pass or at least take Step I before you start your clinical rotations. The consequences of not passing Step I vary from program to program. Some programs (contingency programs) actually dismiss you from the medical school and/or surgery program. If you plan on attending a dual degree program, be sure to ask when you will be required to take USMLE Step I, how residents in that program prepare for the exam, what the pass rate of previous residents at that program has been, and what are the consequences for not passing the exam. Most oral and maxillofacial surgery residents effectively prepare for and pass the USMLE exams.