JVA is a computer analysis of the amount of vibration present in your right and left TMJs (Temperomandibular Joint) while you open and close your mouth. The JVA headset looks like a pair of headphones that are placed on your TMJs, right in front of your ears. This is a completely non-invasive procedure that can tell not only IF there is vibration in the TMJ, but also WHEN it occurs and how severe it is. Healthy joints glide quietly upon opening or closing.
There is a small cartilage disc that sits between your upper jawbone and lower jawbone. The disc is supposed to be attached to your lower jawbone and slide along with it as you open and close your mouth, thereby preventing the upper and lower jawbones from grinding on each other. For many reasons (trauma, before or after orthodontics, grinding or clenching your teeth), the disc can become damaged and start to detach from the lower jawbone. When this happens, it can become “bunched” between the upper and lower jawbones upon opening or closing.
Dr. Alfe can use the JVA not only to diagnose if there is a problem in the TMJ, but also to determine how treatment is helping reduce the vibration in the TMJ. Many people have experienced either popping or clicking in their TMJ at one time or another. Sometimes it becomes so severe that the person’s jaw can lock in an open or closed position. Pain may or may not be associated with this condition as well. What some people do not know is that popping or clicking in the TMJ can be a sign of joint disease which is called Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
In the earlier stages of TMD, the patient may just notice occasional popping or clicking noises. WHEN the noise occurs is one clue as to what part of the disc may have become detached. Knowing this helps in determining the proper treatment (wearing a nightguard, bite adjustment, rebuilding of the bite, physical therapy, just to name a few). If the disc becomes more detached, it can get lodged between the upper and lower jawbone, causing the jaw to “lock” in an open or closed position. Sometimes it is so severe that the patient needs to seek help from his/her dentist to “free up” the joints.
Many migraine headache patients have also been shown to have high vibrations in their TMJs, which is often caused by them clenching their teeth while they sleep. This constant stress during the night can cause uneven pressure on either or both TMJs, causing the disc to distort or detach. Sometimes, simply wearing a mouthguard like the NTI can alleviate the stress caused by clenching and can allow the disc to reposition itself in a healthier way. Using the JVA before, during, and after treatment gives Dr. Alfe information that tells her (along with feedback from the patient regarding his/her pain, freedom of movement, ability to eat) that the treatment is working. Quiet TMJs often go hand-in-hand with pain free patients.
While there are not many options available to treat a severely detached disc, it is possible to PREVENT the problem from progressing. Knowing how far along the detachment is helps determine the proper treatment for the patient.
Having treated seriously debilitated pain patients for years, Dr. Alfe knows how badly chronic pain can impact your quality of life. If you think the JVA could help you, call or email Chicago Smile Spa for a cosmetic consultation. Dr. Alfe can review her diagnostic and treatment choices with you and find a solution that will allow you to resume a normal, healthy, and pain-free life!