What is a Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dentists who perform difficult and complex tooth-extraction operations are called maxillofacial surgeons (also known as Oral Surgeons). They also remove tumors and other growths from patients’ mouths, and fit oral prostheses. Other procedures include treating injuries, diseases, disorders, and deformities in the head, face, jaw, neck, and sinuses. These surgeons are trained to administer anesthesia, as well. For more on job duties, please visit our oral surgeon job description page.

Work Environment

Most maxillofactial surgeons are employed in hospitals, clinics, and the offices of dentists and doctors. These workplaces are generally safe, sterile, and properly equipped. Surgeons must stand for long periods during operations, and may be exposed to infectious diseases. This is a high-pressure profession, as restoring a patient’s appearance or body functions depends upon a surgeon’s steady hand.

Work Schedule

This is a full-time job, involving weekday hours, in most cases. It is not uncommon for a maxillofacial surgeon to work more than 80 hours during some weeks. Emergency operations require some surgeons to be on call at all times. Part-time positions, typically favored by older doctors nearing retirement, also are available.

Mean Annual Maxillofacial Surgeon  Salary

The average annual maxillofacial surgeon salary is $216,440. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $89,590 and the top 10% makes well over $270,000.

Maxillofacial Surgeon Job Outlook and Prospects

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of jobs in this field will increase 16 percent per year, through 2018. This growth rate, a bit better than that of most occupations, would mean 7,800 positions being added between 2012 and 2022.

The expanding population and increasing number of seniors are helping to spur demand for maxillofacial surgeons. With advancements in technology making procedures less invasive, more people are seeking these specialists’ services. More widespread access to health insurance could be another factor in job growth. While the number of students applying to dental schools is rising, many elderly surgeons are retiring.

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Maxillofacial Surgeon Salary: Factors of Influence

Maxillofacial Surgeons are ensured a rather healthy salary because of their specialized skillset and the extra training necessary to develop those specific medical procedure abilities. Performing a range of surgical procedures, from facial reconstruction to jaw realignment, from tumor removal to teeth extraction, and so much more, a maxillofacial Surgeon is an essential part of most successful dentistry operations, as well as comprehensive trauma units. Their specialized skills combined with the fact that they, like most specialized surgeons, are in high demand around the country, mean their salaries continue to grow.

Education and Specialization

Preparing for a medical career begins in high school, where students should take a science and math classes like biology, chemistry, physics, and algebra. The next requirement is a four-year bachelor’s degree in a science (such as biology or chemistry) from an accredited college or university. This undergraduate program needs to include two years of predental education.

A students must then be accepted by a dental school, which could entail competing with other applicants. A good grade-point average in high school, and an acceptable score on the ACT or SAT test, are critical. Successful completion of the Dental Admission Test is also required. In some cases, undergrads are allowed to begin medical school a year or two before receiving bachelor’s degrees. Four years of study in dental school features classwork, as well as on-the-job training with professionals in the field.

After earning a graduate degree, a student needs to receive residency training with a licensed surgeon. This takes four to six years to complete. To practice, a certificate of specialty training in maxillofacial surgery is mandatory. The final requirement is a state-issued license.


The BLS reported in May 2012 that the overwhelming majority of maxillofacial surgeons (4,180) worked in dental offices and clinics. Physicians’ offices employed 390 surgeons; general medical and surgical hospitals, 210; colleges, universities, and professional schools, 130; and outpatient care centers, 30.

The industries offering the highest average salaries were physicians’ offices, $230,350; dentists’ offices, $226,280; and outpatient care centers, $189,720. The typical hospital paid $122,450, while maxillofacial surgeons at educational institutions earned an average of $62,900.


In recent years, the states reporting the greatest job growth for maxillofacial surgeons have been New York, Texas, Maryland, and Indiana. The percentage of new positions has been lowest in Georgia. Other states experiencing slow job growth are California, Minnesota, and Florida.

However, at last report, California led the nation in the number of positions (490) for maxillofacial surgeons. The mean salary was $179,920. New York had 410 jobs, averaging $249,810. Next were Texas, 360 positions at $209,970; Massachusetts, 350 at $230,370; and Ohio, 260 at $207,610. The metropolitan areas with the most maxillofacial surgeons were Baltimore, Md. (120); Nashville, Tenn. (110); and San Francisco, Calif. (100).

Maxillofacial Surgeon Salary State By State