As part of every dental exam the Cape Dental Doctors palpate the face and TMJ’s to see if there is any clicks or pops associated with opening and closing the mouth. Occasionally, a patient will have clicks and/or pops during the examination. Thankfully, most clicks and pops have been happening for years and are not causing any discomfort. However, some patients will report discomfort and require a much more detailed follow-up examination. These examinations normally take up to a hour to complete. First we record a thorough detailed history of what causes the discomfort including history of trauma, other oral surgery consultations, past history of any type of treatments and any para-functional habits such as grinding, bruxing, nail biting, chewing ice, or chewing gum. All the muscles of mastication are palpated for tenderness, maximum mouth opening is recorded, overbite and over jet are noted along with the stress levels the patient is currently experiencing.
Thankfully, 85% of what people call TMJ problems are actually myofacial pain syndrome cause by a faulty bite. However, to make sure the joints are not contributing to the problem each patient is tested with the Joint Vibration Analysis or JVA. It is a sophisticated microphone that is placed on the patient like a pair of headphones. The patient is coached to open and close very wide and quickly so the sounds of the joint can be heard by the computer. After the patient has opened and closed several times an average is calculated for each joint and results are analyzed for disease processes such as disk displacement and derangements. If disease is found in the joints the appropriate treatment is prescribed. If none are found then the next test moves onto the TekScan which is a movie of how you put your teeth together.
The JVA is another service provided at Cape Dental Care that few other dentists have even heard of or understand. It provides a better understanding of our patient’s dental needs and is another example of just how far our doctors are willing to go to provide advanced dental treatment of our patients.