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Who To Choose: Botox Injections For Jaw Problems Dr. Donald Tanenbaum

BOTOX® For Jaw Problems – Who To Trust

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

Date: November 29, 2017

The effectiveness of BOTOX® to erase the signs of aging is well-known. But BOTOX®, as you may have heard, can be used to treat a number of medical conditions, as well. As the popularity of BOTOX® has grown so has the number of people who are willing to inject it. BOTOX® for jaw problems, including symptoms associated with TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), is no exception.

If you’re reading this article you’re possibly experiencing jaw pain or know someone who is. I’ve been treating patients for jaw problems for over 30 years, and during most of that time, I depended upon oral appliances (also called tooth protectors, night guards, or bite plates) as part of first-line therapy to help my patients. Countless people are a tremendous amount of relief from the devices and some won’t consider sleeping without them.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of people do not get relief from first-line TMJ treatment, and some of them develop even more jaw symptoms when using them. If you’re one of these folks, you may be considering injections of BOTOX® for jaw problems as many others are, too.

However, it’s critical for you to understand that BOTOX®, like the oral appliances that help so many of my patients, will not cure your jaw problem. You must address the reasons your jaw got into trouble in the first place.

For BOTOX® for jaw problems to work effectively, it must be injected into both the masseter and temporalis muscles. And, the injections will likely need to be repeated for a time at three-month intervals. Your jaw is a complex structure and is integral to the quality of your life.

You need to be extremely careful about who you choose to administer BOTOX® injections. In some cases, BOTOX® doesn’t work and may even do more harm than good.

BOTOX® For Jaw Problems Is A Serious Decision

First, it’s critical that you are evaluated by an experienced orofacial pain specialist before you have BOTOX® injected into your delicate jaw muscles. Orofacial pain specialists have a specific focus on jaw problems and they have the experience, education, skill and knowledge to determine if BOTOX® for jaw problems will help you.

Here are five scenarios where BOTOX® for jaw problems can be appropriate:

1. You Overuse Your Jaw Muscles

When jaw muscles become overworked, over-built, and consequently, sore and painful, it can be for a variety of reasons. Most people know that TMJ symptoms can be caused by grinding and clenching your teeth at night. But, there are a lot of other causes of TMJ that happen during the day such as gum chewing, nail or cuticle biting, gnawing on pens or pencils, or even bracing your jaw muscles as you work, especially when you sit for hours at a computer.

I do administer BOTOX® for jaw problems in my practice, but not before I work closely with a patient and help them modify or eliminate the overuse behaviors that caused their problems in the first place. Many strategies including muscle-stretching exercises, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques are very effective and non-invasive. If the overuse behaviors are not addressed and changed, BOTOX® for jaw problems has little – or no – benefit.

2. Your Jaw Muscles Bulge

BOTOX® for jaw problems is predictably effective when a patient’s jaw muscles are so overbuilt that they bulge even when they’re contracted. 

3. You Have Jaw Pain Only On One Side

If your jaw pain is not the same on both sides, before you choose BOTOX® injections, you must be examined by a medical professional who is educated and experienced in the relationships between teeth, bite and jaw postures and how they influence muscle health, overdevelopment and pain. BOTOX® injections must be placed strategically and it’s critical that the correct amount is injected into each muscle site. It’s critical that the person administering the injections has a great deal of expertise.

4. If You Have A Locked Jaw

It requires some deep investigating to determine when and if BOTOX® injections are the right treatment for patients whose jaw locks frequently or has been locked for a while. A locked jaw can be due to a myriad of factors. Figuring out why it’s happening in the first place is critical before you consider BOTOX® for jaw problems. Only an experienced orofacial or TMJ specialist can make the right decision

5. Your Jaw Is Clicking

Constant clicking in the jaw joint is usually due to a problem in the ligaments, bones and/or cartilage. Although a clicking jaw can be caused by overuse behaviors like the ones stated above, BOTOX® for jaw problems won’t help if the clicking has become persistent. In fact, BOTOX® can cause even more jaw clicking. If your jaw is clicking and it’s accompanied by pain, a thorough examination by an orofacial pain specialist is your first step. The last thing you need is more problems.


I have been treating patients with jaw problems for over 35 years and BOTOX® or jaw problems is becoming more and more important. But it’s only one of the ways I help my suffering patients. The instinct I’ve developed from my years in practice combined with my focus on science enables me to determine when, and if, BOTOX® is the correct treatment option in each case, where it should be injected and the correct amount of medicine to use.

If you’re considering BOTOX® for jaw problems related to TMJ, lockjaw, clicking or pain, please let an experienced orofacial pain specialist evaluate you before making the decision.  To find an orofacial pain specialist in your area, link here.

I was interviewed on Good Morning America about BOTOX® for jaw problems. Click here to view the interview.

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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