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Botox for TMJ

BOTOX® and Bruxism

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: April 3, 2012

In previous blog posts on bruxism, I’ve discussed how teeth grinding can lead to worn teeth, fractured teeth, facial or jaw pain, and a host of other maladies. There are many ways to treat bruxism, and one of the most recent and perhaps unexpected is BOTOX®.

BOTOX® was originally used for treating muscle spasticity diseases such as strabismus (eye misalignment), blepharospasm (eyelid spasm), and torticollis (wry neck). BOTOX® works by temporarily decreasing or paralyzing the muscles it is injected into. The logical extension of this would be to apply BOTOX® to a myriad of other medical conditions in which excessive or intense muscle contractions are causing pain or dysfunction.

It turns out that BOTOX® can in some cases, be a sensible medical application to bruxism, as injections of BOTOX® into the masseter and temporalis muscles – the large muscles that close the mouth and bring the teeth together – can reduce the forces of bruxism to a significant extent.

The Procedure: By injecting small doses of BOTOX® (different levels are used for each patient) directly into the masseter and temporalis muscles, the muscles are weakened enough to diminish the forces associated with involuntary grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. As a result damage due to the TMJs and symptoms of jaw pain and headaches should be reduced if not eliminated after 2- 3 injection sessions over several months. Luckily, chewing and facial expressions will not be effected by BOTOX®.

Reasons to Consider BOTOX®:

  • If you know you are clenching at night but oral appliances are not helping or making your morning symptoms worse.
  • Positive effects can be felt within 10- 14 days even if you have been suffering for month or years.
  • If helpful, the need for medication (muscle relaxants) at bedtime and pain medications during the day will be reduced or even eliminated.

The optimal dose of BOTOX® must be determined for each patient as some people have stronger muscles requiring more BOTOX®.  The effects last for about three months. After a few rounds of injections, many of our patients require no further  injection sessions though we continue to advise the use of an oral appliance while sleeping if tolerated.

If are suffering from bruxism please do not hesitate to contact me so I can assist you in making treatment decisions.

BOTOX® for teeth grinding is in the news! I was recently interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America on the topic, Can BOTOX® be used to treat teeth grinding?  Click the link to watch the segment.

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered in response to your questions is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. Namely, we in no way offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendation for your particular situation. Our intent is solely educational and our responses to your actual questions serve as a springboard to discussion of a variety of dental topics that come up in a day-to-day dental practice. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified professional.

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