Surgical Precision
At The Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Centers, the growing team led by P. Michael Schelkun, M.D., D.D.S., bridges the gap between dentistry and medicine, with superior results
by Bill Donahue

Whether it’s to alleviate the unbearable pain of having impacted wisdom teeth, receive a permanent dental implant foundation for replacement teeth or experience the joy that comes from correcting a lifelong facial deformity, patients from the Philadelphia area (and much farther afield) are turning to one all-encompassing practice: the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Centers of Dr. Schelkun, with offices in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

Simply by walking through the door of one of the practice’s three surgical centers—Warminster, Fort Washington and Richboro—patients gain the confidence of knowing they are stepping into a surgical environment as safe and well equipped as the region’s most capable hospitals. Furthermore, patients are assured of the best possible outcome in the care of a skilled team led by one of the region’s most experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeons, P. Michael Schelkun, M.D., D.D.S.

“There are so many complex things we do and so many complex patients we interact with; considering the aging population and so many different medications that some patients have to take, it’s a very different environment than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. “I realized early on in my career that training in oral and maxillofacial surgery wasn’t enough. In order for truly effective oral and maxillofacial surgery to be practiced, you need a dental degree and a medical degree.”

In addition to his education and early training—graduating from Marquette University School of Dentistry, completing a four-year residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City/Truman Medical Center, earning his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine—he has worked to continually enhance his knowledge and skill set. For example, he has become dual board certified in oral and maxillofacial surgery and anesthesiology, respectively, by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the National Dental Board of Anesthesiology.

“The board certification and rigorous examination that specialists take is extremely important; it’s the benchmark for any practicing physician,” he says. “For a surgeon, it lets everybody else know you have the qualifications to practice a specialty at such a high level.”

The practice’s surgical staff expanded recently with the addition of Mark P. Kienle, M.D., D.M.D., M.B.A., who joined the practice in July. His surgical interests include facial reconstructive surgery, dental implant surgery and the removal of impacted wisdom teeth.

“This practice is ideal for me,” Dr. Kienle says. “This really bridges the gap between dentistry and medicine. I think dental implants are an especially interesting area because it gets back to the scenario of continuity of care. You do the extraction and then the patient has to come back and see you again for follow-up care, so you’re seeing them through the entire process. Helping someone experience the changes that are going to come with that is a very rewarding part of the field.”

Dr. Kienle, who now lives in Rittenhouse Square, is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He earned his dental degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He was then accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency/M.D. program, where he earned an accelerated medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an advanced specialty certificate in oral and maxillofacial surgery from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Safety First
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Centers has been a fixture in the Philadelphia suburbs since the now-retired Lewis J. Schwartz, D.M.D., founded the practice in 1967. While training at Sinai Hospital in Detroit, Dr. Schwartz learned the techniques of contemporary oral and maxillofacial surgery from the profession’s pioneers. Dr. Schelkun joined the practice in 1991, and it has continued its forward progress in terms of technology, treatment options and procedures offered.

Today the practice specializes in not only wisdom-teeth removal, dental implants and jaw/facial reconstructive surgery, but also various other procedures of the head and neck, such as oral pathology. The surgeons offer a variety of anesthesia options to assist patients through procedures, from sedation to deep sedation to fully monitored general anesthesia. Deep sedation is “the workhorse for us,” according to Dr. Schelkun, while general anesthesia is administered for more involved procedures, such as the extraction of wisdom teeth.

“One of the big things I have heard the past 20 years from so many patients that come here is, ‘I’m going to be asleep, right? I’ve had friends who had same thing done but they woke up in the middle of the procedure,’” Dr. Schelkun says. “Something like that can be extremely scary and traumatic for the patient. It comes down to providing the proper care. With general anesthesia, when the surgery is over, the patient is completely unaware of it, almost like nothing ever happened. They tend to say something like, ‘Wow, we’re done already?’

“There is a tremendous amount of anxiety for the patient when you are working in the head and neck region, so we make sure we go ahead and provide a level of sedation that makes the experience comfortable and absolutely pain free,” he continues. “We not only have to have the training and expertise in providing that modality, but we also have to have the proper facilities to accentuate what we are doing. If you’re doing open-heart surgery you have to have it in a dedicated open-heart center. It’s the same with us; our centers are set up to provide that level of care for that specific patient.”

To help ensure this exceptional level of care, the practice maintains a nursing/surgical staff composed solely of RNs and LPNs, and all are certified in basic cardiac life support, advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support. Furthermore, each of the practice’s freestanding surgery centers is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, a national organization that oversees and maintains strict safety standards for U.S. hospitals and surgical centers. The practice, which recently achieved its fifth accreditation through the Joint Commission, has had the distinction of being the only such accredited oral and maxillofacial surgery centers in the greater Philadelphia area since 1997.

“Most practitioners don’t go to that level of certification,” he says. “Accreditation is the benchmark in providing the proper environment and level of care. The Joint Commission has been there for more than 60 years, providing that service to make sure that patients who need care are receiving it from competent, properly qualified surgical centers. It’s all based on safety, which is paramount in treating someone in this kind of environment. We’ve made that commitment because that’s the kind of care people deserve.”

Three Area Offices:
158 York Road, Warminster
853 Second Street Pike, Suite A-106, Richboro
467 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 106, Fort Washington
Visit for more details on each office and other information on the practice.

Photograph by Allure West Studios