TMJ Disorder Treatment Long Island | Melville

What is TMJ/TMD?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the small joint located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. The TMJ moves during talking, yawning, chewing and swallowing. It is one of the most frequently used joints in the body. Proper functioning of the TMJ includes the use of several muscles, ligaments and bones. The temporomandibular joint enables the jaw to move and function normally. Any conditions that prevent these components from working properly may cause a TMJ disorder (TMD), which can cause pain and discomfort that can be intermittent or constant, and may last for many years. TMJ discomfort can sometimes flare up because of stress.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

The cause of temporomandibular joint disorders is not always apparent, but symptoms may develop from problems with the jaw muscles or with the joint itself. The causes of TMJ disorders may be related to the following:

  • Trauma to the head or neck
  • Oral habits such as clenching or grinding of the teeth
  • "Bad" bite or missing teeth
  • Arthritis
  • Malalignment of the upper and lower jaw
  • Stress

What Types of TMJ Disorders are there?

There are three main types of TMJ disorders. They include:

Internal Derangement of the Joint

A dislocated jaw, displaced TMJ disc or injury to the lower jaw can result in TMJ disorders. This is a structural, as opposed to muscular, symptom. It generally involves the progressive slipping or displacement of the articular disc within the temporomandibular joint.

Degenerative Joint Disease

The overuse or aging of the joint can cause degeneration and/or inflammation. This may be a result of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or a perforated TMJ disc.

Myofascial Pain Disorder

When pain and discomfort occurs in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint, it can result in TMJ disorder. This pain may be the result of abnormal muscular function, daytime clenching or nocturnal grinding (bruxism).

A patient may experience one or more of these disorders at the same time.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Symptoms of TMJ disorders may be constant or intermittent and may include:

  • Chronic pain in the face, jaw, neck and shoulders and in or around the ear
  • Limited ability to open the mouth wide
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Swelling either on one or both sides of the face
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Headaches and neck aches

These conditions may cause symptoms that range from being barely noticeable to causing seriously debilitating pain. These symptoms are not all-inclusive for TMJ disorders and may be symptoms of other conditions as well. Therefore, it is important that the patient undergo a thorough examination by a qualified maxillofacial surgeon.

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Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders

In order to diagnose a TMJ disorder, a doctor will review the patient's symptoms and perform a physical examination. The following tests may also be performed:

  • Clench test
  • X-rays
  • CT scan or MRI scan
  • Computer bite analysis
  • Joint vibration analysis

What Treatments are available for TMJ Disorders?

Treatment for temporomandibular joint disorders may range from conservative dental/medical care to complex surgery. Short-term treatment may include pain medication, muscle relaxation, appliance therapy using a bite plate or splint, and, if necessary, stress-reduction counseling.

If nonsurgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is joint damage, surgery may be needed. Types of surgery performed for TMJ disorders may include:


The surgeon cleanses the joint by inserting needles into the joint area and dispensing sterile fluid. Additionally, the surgeon may use a blunt instrument to remove any tissue adhesion bands and to reposition a disc that is stuck improperly in the joint hinge.


The surgeon uses an endoscope with a camera and light to visually inspect the joint. He or she may remove any adhesions, treat inflamed tissue or reposition the disc.

Open Joint Surgery

In more severe cases, open joint surgery may be performed to provide access to deteriorating bone, tumors or scarred bone. The surgeon may use a scalpel to remove or resculpt the affected area. Open joint surgery requires a longer healing time, and increases the chances of scarring or nerve damage.

What Should I Do When Experiencing a TMJ Flare-Up?

When you are experiencing symptoms of a TMJ flare-up, it can be uncomfortable, painful, and inconvenient. If you haven’t yet received treatment for TMJ, there are several at-home methods you can try to relieve your symptoms. These methods include:

Eating soft foods.

Softer foods such as eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, soup, smoothies, pasta, and soft fruits like bananas will be gentler on the jaw when chewing and eating. Avoid hard foods such as jerky, chips, and raw vegetables or fruits to minimize TMJ pain. Rather than eating hard steaks for protein, try softly cooked ground meat instead.

Ice Therapy

Utilizing a cold ice pack can help provide temporary pain relief in severely sore areas of the jaw. A gel pack or ice pack applied to the area for 10 to 20 minutes can improve TMJ symptoms.

Heat Therapy

If your jaw appears swollen and in pain from TMJ symptoms, opt for a warm treatment such as a moist, warm towel to the area for up to 10 minutes. This method can be repeated as needed.

Avoid Unnecessary Movement of Your Jaw

While it may be hard to stop talking and moving your jaw completely, try eliminating other unnecessary jaw movements such as singing, nail-biting, or yelling to take pressure away from the jaw. If you feel a yawn coming on, some patients may put a fist under their jaw to prevent wide yawns that may cause pain.

What Happens If I Leave My TMJ Symptoms Untreated?

TMJ often starts as very mild jaw pain that patients think they will be able to live with. However, if left untreated, it can lead to major health complications. These complications may include:

  • Jaw problems
  • Tinnitus or hearing problems
  • Recurring dizziness and vertigo
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Lockjaw
  • Dental problems
  • Unsymmetrical muscle growth
  • Insomnia
  • Teeth grinding
  • Difficulty talking
  • Difficulty chewing and eating

TMJ symptoms, if left untreated, can have a negative impact on simple daily tasks such as eating a meal or laughing during a conversation. The good news is that TMJ symptoms are easily treatable. Even if you believe that your TMJ symptoms are mild, addressing any issues you may be having with your jaw or mouth can lead to improving your overall health.

Is There Any Way to Prevent TMJ?

TMJ may not always be preventable. Luckily, treatment for TMJ is possible. Under the care of Dr. Glasser, you’ll be able to receive personalized treatment that will focus on correcting the jaw problems you are having and achieving relief from your worst symptoms. However, if you want to take extra precautions to prevent the worsening of TMJ symptoms, you may do the following:

  • Wear a mouth guard at night to prevent tooth grinding.
  • Wear protective mouthguards when playing sports.
  • Practice good posture.
  • Practice jaw exercises.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to avoid dental issues.

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If you’re ready to find relief from your TMJ symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Glasser today by clicking here. To find out more about TMJ treatment, call 631-423-6767 to reach a team member at our office location in Melville, NY.

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My family and I have been using Dr. Glasser for 30 years. He is the best! He is a professional through and through as well a great guy. He's honest, ethical & always has his patients best interest at heart. He did an excellent job on my implants and caps I could not have gotten a better more beautiful new set of teeth any where else. - Richard G.

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