The temporomandibular joints or TMJs are one of the more complex joints in the human body – here we will discuss a method in the Joint Vibration Analysis or JVA that many dentists are using to aid in the proper diagnosis of TMD or TMJ dysfunction prior to routine dental care.
TMD or TMJ dysfunction is a complex, umbrella term for any of the pathologies associated with the joints themselves, in addition to the craniofacial muscles and teeth that can cause irritation or dysfunction in the joint itself. TMJ can cause many different signs and symptoms including facial and neck pain, joint and jaw pain, difficulty chewing, eye pain, ringing in the ears and tinnitus, as well as the more commonly known 'clicking' and 'popping' of the joints. Joint Vibration Analysis offers a method of helping the clinician to diagnose the intracapsular, or 'within the joint capsule' space of the TMJs.
Often times in the modern dental practice, dentists are left with more subjective methods of diagnosing TMD in the joint, solely basing the treatment planning and diagnosis on patient signs and symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms often come later in the phase of pathology, whereas the problem can often be identified much earlier in its development prior to the patient observing those symptoms. Joint Vibration Analysis is a way to give the clinician insight as to how healthy the joint is during function (chewing and speaking) and allows dentists to properly find the problem long before symptoms may arise.
Similar to how a medical doctor takes biometric measurements of height, weight, and blood pressure as a baseline during a routine medical exam, Joint Vibration Analysis gives researchers that same biometric data on the health of the joint capsule space during a routine dental exam. The test is non-invasive to the patient, is recorded by the dental staff, and only takes a few minutes to record in the clinic.
Joint Vibration Analysis works by having the patient open and close their jaw a few times while vibrational 'transducers' record any abnormal joint vibrations. These vibrations are recorded as objective data and the results can give the dentist good information on how the TMJ disc is moving in the joint.
Normal joints should have no vibration as the joint should properly function with the disc in tact and those that have pathology in the disc space will be picked up by Joint Vibration Analysis. The dentist can tell everything from normal to a displaced or clicking disc, as well as a perforated or torn disc.