Students have been able to study Dentistry as part of the Medical Sciences in the Republic of North Macedonia since 1952, as a separate subject within medical studies. The first classes in dentistry for medical students at the Faculty of Medicine were held by Dr. Dimitar Smilev in 1952, as a manager at the Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw Diseases at the Medical Faculty in Skopje. The beginning was at this Clinic because it was the closest to the medical sciences and had its own health facility (clinic) in the premises of the existing hospital then. Thus, the Clinic became the initial teaching base of the subject of Dentistry for medics, which was introduced in the curriculum of the Faculty of Medicine in the academic year 1954/55 as an optional subject. In 1956 a Department of Dysgnathia and Orthopedics of Jaws and Teeth (congenital and acquired deformities of the face and jaws) was opened. With the rise of casuistry and the expansion of the activity, it moved and expanded in the premises of the Surgical Clinic and there was a successive expansion of the personnel, composed of young doctors and dentists.
Since 1959, with the enactment of the Law on the Establishment of the Dental Department at the Medical Faculty in Skopje, the Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw Diseases has been used as a teaching base of the Department teaching three subjects: dental (oral) surgery, maxillofacial surgery and orthopedics of jaws and teeth. The first lecturer of the three subjects was the Head of the Clinic, Asst. Prof. Dr. Sc Smilev, who until then had been conducting theoretical and practical classes of Dentistry for medics. The curriculum of the subject of Dentistry included theoretical and practical part in all areas of dental studies. At the Department for Maxillofacial Surgery, in narrow spatial conditions, the classes were conducted regularly for 11 years, and in accordance with the curricula of other dental faculties for medics in SFRY at that time.
For the needs of practical training, the clinic’s casuistic taught: soft tissue and bone infections of the face and jaws and dentogenic complications, jaw and soft tissue cysts, trigeminal neuralgia, traumatic soft tissue injuries in the maxillofacial region, and pathological fractures, benign and malignant tumors in the maxillofacial region, temporomandibular joint disease, pre-prosthetic surgery, diseases of the upper jaw cavity, partial osteotomies etc. The personnel training of the small and professional team of the Clinic took place in several centers outside the country (Dusseldorf, Bonn, Hamburg) with eminent experts, in order to expand the activity and introduce innovations in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Spatial capacity and technical equipment
The new premises of the Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic were built in 1974. Today, teaching activities, the theoretical and practical work performed at the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery takes place at the Public Health Institution University Clinic for Surgery of the Face, Jaws and Neck – Maxillofacial Surgery, which since 2019 is named after the founder of this remarkable institution in the Republic of North Macedonia, “Academician Ilija Vaskov”. The clinic, which is currently under reconstruction, is housed in a two-story building with a 16 hospital rooms, 36 hospital beds, outpatient care centre, a local anesthesia operating room, an operating block with a modern operating room for general anesthesia and an intensive treatment unit.
The development path of the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery is constantly growing as a result of great enthusiasm and commitment of the employees striving for top achievements in the teaching-educational, scientific and health activities.
Teaching-scientific and health activity
Maxillofacial Department organizes the theoretical and practical work for dental students through four subjects (maxillofacial surgery, resuscitation anesthesiology, emergency conditions and treatment of patients at risk). These subjects are taught by eight lecturers and one assistant, according to previously prepared curriculum.
At the same time, the Department conducts classes for trainees in maxillofacial surgery, oral surgery, orthodontics and postgraduate studies. The Department also participates in the education of related specialist personnel in the field of medicine such as anesthesiology, traumatology, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology and other specialties. Specialization in maxillofacial dentistry surgery, according to current criteria, takes five years. In the period from 1960 to 2018, 53 doctors specialized at the Department and acquired the title of specialists in maxillofacial surgery.
Lectures taka place at the amphitheater furnished with modern equipment. Maxillofacial surgery is a subject, independent, yet within the dental studies in the fifth and sixth year of studies, organized through theoretical and practical work.
The teaching body and the auxiliary teaching staff regularly follows professional literature and modern achievements in maxillofacial surgery and they actively participate in congresses, educational courses, symposia and conferences held in the country and abroad, giving their contribution in a scientific-professional sense with their research works. Numerous eminent foreign experts stayed at the Department while lecturing at its facilities.
Both the Department and the Clinic were the organizers and hosts of the First and the Second Macedonian Congress for Maxillofacial Surgery with international participation, held in Ohrid, in 2006 and 2014.
The staff of the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery are members of the Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons of Macedonia, the European Association of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons and the Medical and Dental Chamber of Macedonia. The Department has teaching staff who has completed its professional development in top vocational centers abroad: Ljubljana (Slovenia), Prague (Czech Republic), Stockholm (Sweden), VMA Belgrade (Serbia), Nijmegen (Netherlands), Freiburg (Germany), Ghent (Belgium), Zagreb (Croatia) and Liverpool (UK), working with eminent experts such as prof. Toman, Mazanek and Fara, prof. Bengt Shorlov, prof. Shkokljev and Cvetinovic, H.P. Fraichofer, prof. V. Shili and R. Schmelzheisen, prof. Zaidela, prof. Veermez. The professional visits enabled transfer and exchange of the rich clinical experience and scientific achievements for the purpose of professional-scientific prosperity of the Department as a whole.
In addition, in the period from 2007 to 2014, within the European Association of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (EACMR), an International Training Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery was organized, where seven international educational courses were held by foreign lecturers – experts in the area of maxillofacial surgery.
The teachers of the Department are also leading staff within the Association of Maxillofacial Surgeons of Macedonia, within which regular meetings and postgraduate seminars in the field of maxillofacial surgery are held.
Scientific research and publishing activity
The Department of Maxillofacial Surgery strives to prepare medical staff for extensive scientific research and to deepen their knowledge of maxillofacial surgery. It is an integral part of the overall activity of the Department. The research work in the period from 1989 to 2019 results in a number of doctoral dissertations and master’s theses.
The teaching staff of the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery are the Heads and collaborators in several scientific research projects performed and fully completed at the Clinic for Maxillofacial Surgery. In addition, other institutions that can be included and give their scientific contribution in certain areas are also considered as part of the teaching process. In the period from 1989 to 2009, the findings of six scientific research projects were defended and published.
The projects address the issue of congenital anomalies in the facial-jaw area, preventive-surgical treatment of deformities in the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as clinical-laboratory and immunological analysis of inflammation in the maxillofacial region, temporomandibular joint diagnostics and therapy, parotid diagnostics and therapy, trauma treatment in the maxillofacial region. The extraordinary outcome of the scientific research project completed in cooperation with the X-ray Institute and the Institute of Pathology at the Medical Faculty in Skopje, created the postoperative diagnostic protocol for tumors of the salivary glands through histopathological and radiological criteria.
The long-term continuous upgrade of the professors from the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery and their undisputed clinical experience has been translated into numerous professional and scientific papers published in our country and in foreign journals. The enthusiasm for greater achievements in the scientific field can be witnessed through their authorial and co-authored work including more than 10 textbooks published, two atlases, one dictionary and five monographs.