Grinding your teeth at night is common, but in some cases it can actually break your molars in half and cause severe pain in your head and jaw.
A night guard is the appliance most commonly prescribed by dentists, but that doesn’t always fix the problem and sometimes even makes the patient’s pain worse.
Now, there is a cutting-edge diagnostic tool that can determine what is making your jaw snap, crackle and pop.
It’s called joint vibration analysis, or the JVA quick test. It’s used to determine if a patient’s jaw joint is damaged.
Ray Becker, D.D.S., F.A.G.D, a dentist at Howard County Smiles in Ellicott City, Maryland, said “The patient comes in and has the test done, which is simple. It’s just two sensors that look like headphones that go onto the ears. There’s zero discomfort. There’s zero pain and within a minute, we can tell exactly what’s going on with that patient’s joint.”
The teeth, muscles and joints should work in perfect harmony when we talk, eat, even yawn. When one is out of balance, there’s pain.
“There would be mornings where I literally could not get through a two-hour long evaluation or treatment session just because it hurt so much for me to talk," said Laura Hyde.
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Becker said with Hyde's treatment, they actually expanded her upper skull.
“My overall quality of life is so much better. I don’t wake up every morning with a headache,” Hyde said.
For Amber Langmeier, an oral appliance made all the difference.
“I can honestly say I don’t clench anymore. For the first time, I realize how it feels to not have tight muscles and not to hold tension in my head and neck and jaw area," said Langmeier.
With more than half the population suffering from TMJ, the JVA quick test gives patients more precise treatment options.
“I’m a strong advocate of using data and equipment and technology to get facts, so we can build our responses, diagnosis and treatments on that,” detailed Becker.
Becker said most dentists with JVA provide it free or for a very low cost because it is invaluable in getting to the proper diagnosis, just like taking your blood pressure at a doctor’s appointment.