Hamidreza Nassery , DMD, FICOI, FAGD, FICCMO  
Male, 51
Miami Beach, FL

Interests: My family, Dentistry, all sports, Travel
Miami Beach,
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TMJ – What a Pain in the Neck!  “Elegant Ecology”

Jan 16, 2018 - 2 comments

If you have followed the sequence of my other blogs about TMJ pain and TMJ Disorder in general, by now you could come to the following conclusion on your own.

Dentistry is closely related to the functional and dynamic systems of the body. This relation which has been termed an “Elegant Ecology” is so intertwined that discussing one without the other would be an artificial separation of anatomy and physiology.

Any change in dental anatomy, position and mechanics will have an influence on the Craniosacral System and other functional systems of the body. It really is a simple matter. The position of the teeth affect the function of the jaw, which in turn effects the head position.

Rene Cailliet, Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Southern California, has put it best: “It is an axiom that the body follows the head. You can realign your whole body by repositioning your head. Head held in a forward position can pull your entire body out of line. It can reduce the vital lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. The gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. When a hunched position is assumed, the body becomes more rigid, and the range of motion decreases.  Since endorphin production is reduced, an increase in pain and discomfort results.”

Treating hundreds of patients including those with TMJ pain and all kinds of neck or cervical neuralgia, over the past 15 years in my Clinic at Miami Beach Dentistry, I have come to see this connection first hand. The body works as a complex unit, and when trying to treat it all parts need to be addressed based on their own merit.

What does this mean? I’ll elaborate. A very dangerous and persistent trend I see in patients today is the sum of fragmented information they have amassed from different sources be it websites or support groups. I say dangerous, because some of these patients believe that there is a holy grail in the form of a clinician or treatment that will take all their issues away.

The truth is far from that. Proper diagnosis and correct sequencing of the treatment is the key. This means that each segment of this complex “Craniosacral System” must be addressed by the correct practitioner specializing in that specific part. Yes, in my view, the best approach to treatment is a multi-disciplinary approach.

I have made no secret of my trainings and studies with Dr. Chan. I am a true believer in the fundamental basis of a physiologic bite, and the power of micro occlusion as taught by him. However, this is not a magic wand. While the correction of the jaw function can help many, it is not the only factor that needs to be addressed. What about the “Pain in the Neck”?

Many of the very advanced patients I see in my Miami Beach Dental Clinic today, have extremely poor postures, scoliotic spines, forward head and hips and unevenly developed musculature. Patterns that have developed over many years. Repositioning of the jaw and stabilizing the occlusion does not automatically correct all these issues. It does put you in a better position to correct them but it does not do the job for you. Without addressing the posture on its own, there will be residual symptoms, and in cases it can relapse the bite back to the previous position. It is a two-way street.

One of the most common issues I encounter, is lack of stability or integrity in the vertebral column. Specially in the cervical spine. Many of these patients have been cracking their own necks since they were kids. Later in life they have possibly seen Chiros and or other practitioners who have adjusted them. The result is the same, hyperlaxity of the connective tissue and ligaments that hold our skeletal system together. These patients can pull their vertebrae out by turning their heads suddenly or picking up a heavy object. This laxity needs to be addressed separately by another professional.

To look at this from another view consider the following. In my Dental  Practice, I have a handful of patients that are partially edentulous and based on everything I know and have learned these past 20 years, they should be in severe pain and discomfort. However, they are not. A closer look at these patients revealed that they were in great physical form. They are swimmers, dancers, trainers and so on. The effects of proper postural stance and integrity should not be discounted.

Another complicating factor that is somewhat overlooked is airway patency.  Although airway as of late, has become a hot topic, most of the solutions currently thrown around are quick fixes and palliative in nature. I believe that another segment of our patients who do not get the expected results are suffering from poor airway patency.

In my Practice, I try to anticipate these and other factors ahead of time in our patients and to address them each accordingly. This means working with other like minded and progressive practitioners and physicians who could help me bring a more complete treatment to my patients.

Here always for any progressive discussion.

Owner of Miami Beach Dentistry/ RealSmile and Co Founder of The TMJ Research Foundation.

TMJ Pain Relief :  TMJ and TMD Prototypical Patient

Dec 06, 2016 - 48 comments

While at work the other day, I received an email notification from my oldest and most popular blog on TMJ/TMD Pain Relief matters. While reading it and in my mind formulating my answer to a TMJ and TMD Prototypical Patient, I realized that the post really deserved its own thread. I am including the post here.

Dear Dr. Nassery-

You have heard this before but thank you and Dr Chan for continuing this blog, it is very important to the TMD community.

My story begins in 2000, when I received a whiplash injury to my jaw.  Forward to November 2003 and I developed serious TMD, with the right masseter in spasm as well as headaches and facial pain.  I saw a local (Portland Oregon) neuromuscular dentist who set me up with a really good TMJ massage therapist  to help my jaw movement. Then he put me in a flat plane splint that he would periodically adjust a little bit and in a few months I was pain free.  I went to yoga class for a few years and wore my splint at night off and on for several years,  but eventually I stopped each.   He did mention that I would have a risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life in my right jaw. Forward on to 2016 and I started to notice my neck and shoulders tightening.  I do not know if there is an association but last summer I did fall off a boat and hit my head on a wood dock .....I ended up cracking the 2x4 where my head landed....I noticed my upper body tightening up more after that but again it may be just a coincidence.  Well in late September I could hardly turn my head left or right and after a round of golf I went into severe upper body spasms.  I went into emergency.  After 3-4 days of pain my appointments with my massage therapist started.  Basically I had cervical nerve pain down my left arm and shoulder  originating in C5-C6.  My SCM.'s , levators, left and right were all very tight as were other upper back and neck muscles.  After a few days I noticed my bite was going bad as my right masseter was spasming and unstable.  I was in a lot of  pain with headaches, right ear pain and all of the muscular dysfunction.  I was using a lot of Advil. I thought I was done with TMD as of 2004!  As time has gone on with physical therapy in addition to massage therapy my symptoms have settled down to the following-
1).  Variable tension in my right masseter with a constantly changing bite.
2).  Constant low grade ear ache in my right ear.
3)  A sore area in my throat  upper back right side
4).  Sometimes low grade pain behind my left eye.
5).  Variable nerve pain down my left arm and sometimes in my right shoulder.
6).  Variable muscle tension in my neck.

I should add that I now do 30 minutes of yoga daily in addition to the PT and various stretches and exercises he has me doing.  I have improved a lot since early October,  but each day (minute?) is different with the symptomatology and the intensity of the symptoms.  I should add that I went back to wearing my old flat plane splint from13 years ago .  I wear it only at night .  I do notice my overbite has increased since October.  I can open my mouth about 35 mm with no pain, but I cannot capture the disc, my right jaw clunks and deviates only when I open wide and as I start to close.  

Historically I have many of the usuals mentioned as perhaps part of the etiology of TMD.....anxiety, forward posture, clenching etc.  I am diligently correcting my posture with yoga while paying attention to ergonomics at all times.  I try not to clench and am controlling my anxiety with antidepressants. I have made gains, but I would like to go further.From your perspective is there anything I should be doing differently or is there something I am missing? I am prepared to accept that my TMD may be chronic, but I would love to mitigate the current symptomatology and/or prevent further degradation.  Guess I am regretting dropping yoga 7 years ago, then again maybe it would have made no difference.  Oh yes I am currently 60 years old, but I have to keep going as I have a couple of teenagers at home.  Any help or advice you can give I will appreciate. I tried to be as concise and detailed as possible in my report.  I will add that I had orthodontia as a teenager with 4 wisdom teeth and 4 additional teeth pulled.  I have a smaller mandible so maybe this has an effect on my muscular symptoms.....I think a previous dentist mentioned there is a pretty small space to accommodate the musculature....then again the left side of my face is not spasming.

Dear Mark,

The last part of your letter was the beginning of your story not 2000, I beg to differ.  Yes, as you may have guessed from my previous answers I am strongly opposed to 4 bicuspids extraction orthodontics. That’s where your issues were made more complex. I say that because you must have had a particular set of issues that made them recommend 4 bi extraction. So I am going to go on a limb and say you had lots of allergies or breathing issues as a child. This I suspect resulted in your facial growth pattern to change from a horizontal pattern to a longer form vertical growth pattern, which would have resulted in narrow arches and crowded teeth. Gummy smile?? Perhaps?
Long face people have a short distance from their hyoid (adam's apple) to the tip of their chin.  This means your airway is smaller than it should be. Let’s keep that little fact in the back of our mind.
Then you were taken to an orthodontist, and he/she did what they were taught in school. 4 on the floor. Well, let’s think about the circumstances that changed your dental profile. So when we can not breath through our nose, we naturally breathe through our mouth. Including when we are asleep.  This little fact is perhaps the mother of all malocclusion. When our mouth is open the tongue is unable to do its job. Which is to develop the dental arch in the correct position. Remember bone goes where the muscle directs it. So the outer limit of our dental arch, namely maxilla,  is set by our muscles of facial expression, and the inner limit is set by the tongue..following me Mark?  But we already established that your tongue was out of commission. So now your upper arch which has to grow, will only be directed by your facial musculature.. This direction is down and back.. So if you have been following this you can start to see the picture. Then of course you saw the orthodontist and he/she took 4 more teeth and pulled your teeth, you guessed it, further back. The last direction we want to go..
Your masticatory muscles didn’t know all this was going to happen. They are genetically designed to work in a preset trajectory. However, since the body works as a unit, we are able to make accommodation to still bring our teeth together and eat. These accommodations will take their toll over time. A large part of these accommodations are made in our neck, so yes all of those cervical issues are very typical of our patients, and yes the degenerative pattern in the lower cervical vertebrae is very common.
Going back to the “posteriorized” dental arches, will cause the jaw joint positioning to also be distalized, hence creating the issues in the jaw joint such as displacing the disc and pressurizing the condyle which causes bending and arthritic changes within the joint. Of course when you are in a less than ideal postural and spinal position you will be more predisposed to injury in case of accident.
Based on your list of symptoms, I know that your right side dentition are lower than the left side, this means your lower jaw would have a larger torque or rotation to the right. Therefore, you are more symptomatic on that side. As a matter fact I am willing to bet that if we took and x-ray of your cervical spine, your C2 would be turned to that side. Which means the rest of the vertebrae would follow that que and very good chance you have scoliosis in mid thoracic. So going down the list of your symptoms,
1).  Variable tension in my right masseter with a constantly changing bite.  
Lower plane of occlusion means your masseter has to work harder to bring that side together
2).  Constant low grade ear ache in my right ear.
Again, another reason why I know your right side  is more distalized and C2 is rotated. That joint is both more loaded and the nerve root between C1 and C2 is more pinched.
3)  A sore area in my throat  upper back right side
Various muscle spasm, very typical of a patient whose body has been making long term accommodation for parts not doing their parts.More than likely Superior pharyngeal constrictor muscle.. Again, I am only speculating here..
4).  Sometimes low grade pain behind my left eye.
Spasmodic Pterygoid muscles, indication of joint derangement
5).  Variable nerve pain down my left arm and sometimes in my right shoulder.
This is due to the degenerative disc issues in your lower cervical spine and loosing space between them, hence pressurizing the nerves going to your hands and shoulders.
6).  Variable muscle tension in my neck.
CranioCervical symptoms are the number one reason for patients coming to us. Perhaps 1 out of 10 of my patients really suffer from joint pain. That is not to say that they do not have joint pathology, but many of us can live a long life without any real life altering symptoms from our deranged joints.

Now I want to talk about the things that you are doing right and what you need to do to complement those to a greater extent. You are actually the most ideal type of patient as you have educated yourself and are doing a lot of good things to help yourself and to work towards a more  natural TMJ Relief.
First, understand that at this stage of your development there are skeletal issues that we can not undo, unless you don’t mind having double jaw surgery.  However, you can make things better quite a bit.  Most of your complaints are muscular in nature. That means that if we bring your daily function into a more physiologic position you should get a lot of relief. When I look at all the things you have done and are doing, I get jealous. I wish some of my patients would listen to me more in those respects. You are like my dream patient. You see my approach is three pronged. I diagnose, then work with a PT specializing first and foremost in the treatment of Cervical Spine, and finally try and get my patients into Yoga and exercise.  That latter part, is like pulling teeth, pun intended.

You have done great, also with natural TMJ Pain Relief Exercises, the only missing part is for a good Neuromuscular doc to put you into a physiologic orthotic. I am sorry to tell you but a flat splint is not Neuromuscular. The very definition of Neuromuscular means that you provide specific detailed Gnathologic anatomy on your splint to maintain the physiologic trajectory of function. I know a mouthful. Flat splints don’t do anything aside from taking the load from your jaw joint for a little time. Then you wake up and go about your day eating and functioning in that same pathologic position all day.
I am sure you have heard the expression “Form follows function”, well if you accept that and agree with it, then you must also agree that based on the same principle “Deformity follows dysfunction”. You are expecting that you would go to yoga and exercise to correct your body, but meantime keep functioning in a totally wrong form. Well It's not going to happen.

Find yourself a practitioner that understands this concept and can help you achieve better health. In closing, I want to go back to one little fact I asked you to keep in your mind. Your airway. It is my strong belief that while we can help make you better quite a bit, that our results will be limited by how we can improve your airway. So while I think you should move forward with getting an orthosis and correcting your function, this can only untap some of what is possible to achieve for you. Granted you have never experienced a life without these limitations, even when you were asymptomatic, so it will seem like wonders.

I could go on...but I am afraid it has become a very long answer already. I hope I have been able to give you some beneficial information and that this would help you navigate through the rest of your journey to optimal health. Free of TMJ Pain. All the best and Godspeed.


TMJ/TMJ The Connection Between Teeth, Neck, Spine & Skull

Jan 27, 2015 - 294 comments





pain in jaw


pain relief




head neck pain chronic


jaw clenching


clenching teeth




Neuromuscular disease


tmj therapy


TMJ disorders


Miami Beach Dentist

One of the most difficult concepts to get across to my TMD patients and other doctors is the connectivity of the Jaw and the Neck. In fact, it is my strong belief that TMD/TMJ should really be classified as a Craniocervical Disease and hence fall under the umbrella of medical coverage rather than treated strictly as a dental problem.

To the Neuromuscular-minded dentist, "Occlusion" is an extension of general Postural Consideration. In other words it is a part of a complete system of interrelated bones, muscles and joints that ultimately relate to the Trigeminal System. Dental Occlusion must be synchronized with healthy Mandibular Function as it relates to a healthy head position and by extension a healthy posture.

So why are teeth/occlusion so important for posture? In simple terms incorrect posture is due to a twisted spine, which barring accidents or skeletal abnormalities- like a short leg, is due to an incorrect position of the skull. The position of the skull is influenced by the position of the lower jaw and ultimately the position of the jaw is mandated by the eruption pattern and final position of the teeth. Hence your bite is dictating your posture. Ever wonder why your chiropractic adjustments don't hold for long? Of course we can exercise and be mindful of our posture. However long-term we see that this conflict will have its say.

In my experience, examining both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients of my practice, I have found most often that even in asymptomatic patients the area of conflict lies within the spine; namely the cervical area. So the price for accommodation to the poor bite is most often paid for by our neck. Of course only about 24% of the population formally complain about TMD/TMJD, however if we closely examine all patients I believe we find that the incidence is much higher than that.

My approach today is to start this alignment process from within: from the inside first -with the integrity of the spine in correct position. When this is accomplished we can then bring the optimized position of the jaw and reinforce this correct postural position. Thus the teeth are a visual extension of the spine. This is why it is so important to have the spine in correct position foremost and this will produce a harmonious posture and finalizing with a proper balanced bite. Bringing complete health to the patient.

About the Author:
Hamid Nassery, DMD, FICOI, FAGD  has been practicing dentistry for the past 20 years. His dental practice Real Smile is located in Miami Beach and helps local and national patients.

To explore this further contact Dr. Nassery at 305.672.4444 or at

Jaw like a Plane?

Jun 18, 2013 - 14 comments





Neck pain







Jaw like a plane?

Head and neck pain and discomfort can run a wide range, being a simple nag to severe radiating pain. These pains can be different from day to day, side to side, or up and down. These variations can cause much confusion for all as to where they stem from and how to fix them.

In my practice I see many head and neck and myofacial pain patients who had thought that the pain might have been migraines; sinus and or tension headaches and so on. Most of these sufferers have been seeking medical advice for many years, actually decades in most cases. Most often for a large number of them x-rays, MRI’s and CAT Scans report nothing wrong. Since there is no definitive diagnosis, there is no treatment other than medications. As a matter of fact, there is a whole industry banking and betting on these patients accepting that they are going to be miserable all their life and continue to take these meds as their only relief. It is also my observation in meeting with these patients that they feel  they are not being listened to or believed by their families, friends and doctors.

Now here comes the jaw. The jaw is attached to our head by a set of intricate and complex muscles. Under certain conditions, these muscles can cause all the symptoms mentioned earlier. However a properly trained dentist can recognize this and help relieve and dissolve these pains.

To better explain the above, I will use an analogy once used by one of my mentors to describe the action:

The closing of the jaw is much like landing an airplane. When landing a plane, the pilot must control three movements, the angle or the steepness of the approach, the straightness of the approach and the evenness of right to left. So basically if the angle is too steep, the nose will damage, or if it’s too high the tail can drag and break. If the approach is not straight, meaning it’s sideways and the head is one direction and the tail is another, who knows what happens. Finally, if one side hits before another it can also cause much damage and destroy the plane. In pilot lingo these movements are called Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. Luckily there are sophisticated electronic instruments that handle all these today.

The Jaw can also have Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. As the lower jaw moves towards the upper and the teeth proximate for “landing”, the same rules apply. If the brain perceives that there are inaccuracies in the way teeth will come together, it will activate certain muscles to pull the jaw in any which way required to bring the teeth together or “land” them just perfectly. Most of us can accommodate these movements and lord knows we need to. Orthodontic research has shown us that for the past 250-300 years our teeth have not exactly come out in the correct position. Current estimates tell us that less than only 3% of us have our teeth naturally in the correct place. Our muscles and jaw joints have had to make the accommodation for our teeth to come together. Multiply this oral gymnastic by many years and you will have some very over worked and unhappy muscles.  Muscles that can go into spasm and cause many of the symptoms mentioned before.

With the use of specialized technology and proper training, some dentists can accurately measure good or bad activity of major muscles that open and close the mouth. This computerized technology tracks your jaw and muscle activity at the same time. The dentist looks for a jaw position where the muscles are happiest. We can then record and capture the position using specialized materials, and from that fabricate an appliance that fits over the lower teeth. This appliance, or as we call it “orthotic”, will mimic a good bite or if you want to call it a “good landing”. This will allow muscles to stay happy and as we all know happy muscles don’t cause headaches and neck pains.

The modality of treatment described above is called “Neuromuscular Dentistry” and it is fascinating to watch and experience as it helps people have healthier lives and their well-being improve.

Hamid Nassery, DMD, FICOI, FAGD is a practicing dentist at Real Smile Dental Spa located in Miami Beach, Florida. For more information you can call the office at 305.672.4444 or visit our website at www.miamibeachdentistry.com