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Northwest Center for Oral and Facial Surgery

OMS Glossary

Antiresorptive Osteonecrosis (os-tea-oh-neck-ro-sis) of the Jaws – Within the last decade, an increasing number of cases arose that had in common a breakdown of the jawbone. The oral and maxillofacial surgery community was first to associate this condition with a new class of anti-resorptive drugs (also known as bisphosphonates). Anti-resorptive drugs include the commercial brands Fosamax and Boniva, used to treat osteoporosis, as well as powerful chemotherapy drugs that are effective in treating bone cancers. For patients who are planning treatment using this class of drugs, consultation and ongoing management by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is often recommended in order to prevent or mitigate complications from osteonecrosis.

Impaction – When teeth are present and do not erupt through the gum, they are said to be impacted. Impaction occurs most commonly in third molars (wisdom teeth). Molars may be partially impacted, tissue impacted (buried in the gum) or bony impacted (buried in the jaw bone).  Impactions are commonly painful and flair up unpredictably. Treatment involves radiographic imaging to assess the position and extent of impaction. If surgical removal is recommended, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is qualified to perform extraction with anesthesia safely in an office setting. Wisdom Teeth Management (PDF).

Orthognathic (or-thug-nath-ic) – Literally meaning “straight jaws,” this term refers to a surgical procedure to lengthen, shorten, or realign the jaws in order to produce a correct bite. While many people consider orthodontics (braces) to be the principle method for correcting the bite, orthodontic treatment can only move teeth. Bites that are misaligned because of jaw formation normally require orthognathic treatment or a combination of orthodontic and orthognathic treatment.

Maxillofacial (max-a-low-facial) – This term refers to the portion of the face from the ‘maxilla’ (upper jaw) downward. In OMS, we use this term to signify that the scope of our surgery extends beyond ‘oral’ (the mouth) to include fractures, infections and diseases of the bones in the face, including the jaws, cheekbones, and chin, as well as soft tissue in these areas, such as  glands, sinus, tongue, and oral mucosa.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – (ap-knee-ya) – A condition where breathing is disrupted during sleep, obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes pauses in breathing and loud snoring attributed to airway blockage or collapse. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea do not achieve deep sleep and consequently complain of fatigue throughout the day. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are having great success treating obstructive sleep apnea with conventional orthognathic surgery techniques that move the jaws forward to lengthen the airway.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) – The TMJ is the joint formed at the intersection of the temporal bone of the skull and the mandible, which is the lower jawbone. TMJ pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscles, internal derangement, or arthritis.

Third molars – Known commonly as wisdom teeth, third molars are the fifth set of bicuspid teeth in the mouth, behind two sets of premolars and two sets of molars—hence “third molars.” In the skeleton of the modern human, third molars may fully erupt, or erupt partially, sideways, or remain impacted in the gum or bone. Removal of third molars is the most common outpatient surgical procedure performed in the United States.  Nonetheless, it is a myth that all third molars need to be removed.  Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon is trained to manage third molars and to mitigate risks of adverse side effects of extraction. Wisdom Teeth Management (PDF).