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TMJ Disorders


TMJ Disorders, commonly referred to as just “lockjaw”, include a family of disorders directly and indirectly related to the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw joint. This is one of the most frequently used joint in your body as it is responsible for speaking and chewing.  The muscles that control this joint are also some of the most frequently used muscles. Most TMJ disorders result from dysfunction of either the joint itself or the muscles that control the joint. Since some TMJ disorders can become chronic and even debilitating conditions, early and accurate diagnosis and treatment is important.

What are the Symptoms?

Temporomandibular joint disorders are often associated with the following symptoms:

  • Pain when talking, yawning, or chewing
  • Neck, shoulder, back pain
  • Headaches
  • Ear pain
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the jaw
  • Unable to fully open or close the jaw
  • Frequently clenching or grinding the teeth
  • Recent changes to your bite
  • Recent trauma or injury to the head or neck
  • Increased stress in your life

What Causes TMJ Pain?

There are two broad families of TMJ disorders that are each managed differently. TMJ pain is usually either caused by the muscles controlling the joint, myofascial pain, or by internal derangement of the joint itself. Myofascial pain is often associated with clenching and grinding the teeth and can worsen during times of emotional or psychological stress. Internal derangement of the joint can be caused by inflammation, trauma, bite misalignment, arthritis, and damage to the bone, cartilage, or ligaments of the joint.

What Can I Do To Manage My TMJ Disorder?

The first step to manage any TMJ disorder is proper diagnosis.  This can be done after a thorough history, exam, and any necessary imaging.  During your exam, Dr. Loveless will check for pain, tension, tenderness and trigger points. He will also evaluate your range of motion and determine what the best treatment is for the specific condition.

Medical Treatment

Muscle pain can be treated both medically and with physical therapy. Common medicines include:

  • Anti-inflammatories: NSAIDS reduce swelling , heat, redness, and pain, they relieve inflammation as well
  • Analgesics can be used in the short term until the symptoms are manageable
  • Muscle Relaxants help ease muscle tension. These are helpful short term in patients with acute muscle spasm
  • Antidepressants can be used to reduce pain and bruxism. Using doses much lower than would be used for depression, these medicine can improve lockjaw symptoms.

Non-Medical Therapeutic Treatment

People with TMJ Disorders often go through periods or remission and sometimes have acute flare ups.  During flare ups patients often receive therapy including:

  • Massage
  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Local anesthetics or trigger point injections
  • Jaw stretching exercises
  • Ultrasound
  • Softened Diet

Dental Treatment

If your TMJ disorder is due to chronic clenching, grinding, or a malocclusion, you will likely benefit from dental treatment for TMJ. These include:

  • Splint: A splint is an appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth. It is usually worn at night and will help prevent strain on the muscles and the joint if you are clenching. A splint is one of the only TMJ therapies that are scientifically proven to reduce lockjaw symptoms.
  • Orthodontics: If the upper and lower teeth are out of alignment causing a malocclusion this may contribute to TMJ problems. An orthodontist can align the teeth to an optimal position to reduce symptoms.
  • Bite adjustment/Restorative Treatment: If your bite doesn’t fit together properly or if you have multiple missing teeth, restoring the missing teeth or adjusting the bite may be beneficial to decrease TMJ symptoms.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment for TMJ disorders include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, open joint arthroplasty and total joint replacement. These procedures are sometimes needed, but are reserved for severe cases that have failed other more conservative measures. Surgery is usually not considered unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and nonreducible, has severe degeneration or the patient has tried splint therapy unsuccessfully.

Oral surgical care in a safe, warm, and caring environment!

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5 of 5 stars of 167

Dr. Loveless did an amazing job. I needed a wisdom tooth extracted that had a large cavity. He got it out whole in less than 1 minute. He is great. His staff is wonderful too. My whole experience was great. I will refer anyone that needs an oral surgeon!

Pamela W.
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5 of 5 stars of 167

Very friendly staff. Doctor spent time to explain and answer questions. Easy to make an appointment. Easy to get a recheck. Staff and Doctor made themselves readily available for questions after surgery even during holidays.

Laurie M.
Happy Patient

5 of 5 stars of 167

What can I say? No one likes to visit the dentist…especially for anything other than having their teeth cleaned. I am no different. Hated that I had to have a tooth taken out but it was necessary. I was referred here by my dentist to see Dr. Loveless. If I ever have to have anything else done from an oral surgeon, I would never wish to see anyone else. Dr. Loveless and his staff not only made me feel less anxious but they were super nice and made sure that I knew everything that was being done. I would refer them to anyone with complete confidence! If I could give them more than 5 stars, I would. I want to tell them all thank you for making this process much easier on me. Just an amazing staff and surgeon!!

5 of 5 stars of 167

I went to get my wisdom teeth removed a few days ago & i could not wait to leave a review. My experience was absolutely PHENOMENAL. I wish i could give them more stars. Everyone at the facility was nice, accommodating and very professional. The procedure was done very quickly and they even gave me Ted Drew’s afterwards! My recovery has been unbelievably easy & fast. I had all 4 wisdom teeth extracted and there was very little swelling. I’ve barely had to take any pain medication and i was even able to eat the next day! I’m convinced they are magicians because the entire experience was just so great it seemed unreal! I never leave reviews but I just had to after receiving such amazing treatment. They definitely live up to the reviews!

Keyonna H.
Happy Patient

5 of 5 stars of 167

Dr. Loveless is amazing. I will continue to use and refer people to him.

5 of 5 stars of 167

Best oral surgery place! Everyone is so friendly & caring! They did a great job of making sure I was comfortable & the surgeon did an excellent job-they even gave me some Ted Drewes to bring home!

Deb M.
Happy Patient

5 of 5 stars of 167

Excellent oral surgeon. I had to have my wisdom teeth removed and was terrified. The staff at Archway were very professional and took care of me. Painless proceedure and I was in and out in a hour. highly recommended thank you very much!

Patrick H.
Happy Patient

5 of 5 stars of 167

My experience with the ladies and Doctor Loveless was great. I had never been put under by anesthesia before and they made me comfortable and very relaxed. They took care of me from the beginning consultation to leaving minus 4 teeth. Thankfully Dr. Loveless is a younger man so he will hopefully be around to treat my children with the same care, someday.

5 of 5 stars of 167

We were headed to Florida when my son came down with an abscessed tooth. Dr. Loveless was able to get us in and remove his tooth before our flight. I can’t thank Laurie enough for making what could be a scary experience for my 7 year old, a fun, pleasant one. I can’t express how thankful I am for her treating him like her own and making sure he was comfortable. She went above and beyond in my eyes and made this nervous mom rest a little easier. Thank you both!!!

5 of 5 stars of 167

I had a great experience at Archway. I went there to get four wisdom teeth removed. The office was clean. The staff was nice and efficient. Dr. Loveless was warm and the Spotify music was a nice touch. The procedure went through with no problems and I didn’t feel a thing. I received a post op call and great instructions. Overall, the experience exceeded my expectations after you hear all the horror stories regarding wisdom teeth removal.

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St. Louis Office

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St. Louis Office

Office: (314) 328-5995

Address:
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St. Louis, MO 63109

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Address:
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Washington, MO 63090

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