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Living with chronic facial pain can be very difficult for the sufferers and their loved ones. Often, diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain can be elusive. Since the pain can radiate outward in an area, it can be difficult to pin down the source of the pain. The source of the pain may be related to infection, nerve, or muscle tissue.  Botox may be the answer for many muscular issues. Botox can cause an overactive, painful muscle to become more flaccid and therefore relieve pain from muscle spasms allowing sufferers to be pain free.

What Can Botox Do?

Botox (a brand name of Botulinum Toxin for injection) is injected directly into a targeted muscle group. Once botox enters the muscle it prevents the muscle from recieving nerve commands. Without this command the muscles will not contract thus leaving them temporarily paralyzed. The most popular use of Botox is to relax facial muscles, removing wrinkles to give a more youthful appearance. Botox can be used throughout the facial muscles to paralyze the painful, spasming muscles related to grinding, clenching, headaches, etc. This paralysis can give much needed pain relief from overactive muscles for as long as 3 months at a time.

What Types Of Dental Pain Can Botox Treat?

-Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain. The temperomandibular joint is susceptible to disorders, as it consists of delicate moving parts. When any of these moving parts are not in proper alignment pain can be the result. The major reason for damage is due to chronic bruxism (teeth grinding) or teeth clenching. With Botox use in the TMJ area, the muscles of the jaw are allowed to relax and prevent it from contracting, decreasing the grinding or clenching, and in turn decreasing pain.

-Myofacial Pain Syndrome. This is considered a chronic pain disorder. This syndrome occurs when pressure is placed on sensitive points in your muscles. These are called trigger points. When this “trigger point” pressure occurs, the pain can does not always occur at the source, but may begin at a different location from the source of the pressure. This is called referred pain and may be very difficult to accurately diagnose. Myofacial pain syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress. Myofacial pain can stem from problems with your TMJ / jaw muscles, or forehead muscles. Myofacial pain can be sudden and debilitating.

-Arthritis. Early studies have shown that Botox injections appear to reduce arthritis pain in the shoulder, knee and hip. These results are promising, and may be helpful in patients with arthritis along with TMJ pain, but further research is needed.

Botox Conclusion

When it comes to chronic pain it is difficult to predict how each patient will respond. It is important to note that an infection should always be ruled out, and diagnosis by your dentist or medical doctor should be conclusive before trying  Botox treatment. Botox may just be the answer to many to relieve them of their chronic pain in the short term. While still being studied, it could be a key component in relieving the symptoms of those suffering from chronic pain.

Botulinum toxin, or “Botox“, has been used for quite some time as a cosmetic aid in physicians and dentists offices. It can be utilized to make us look and feel younger. Did you know that botox has many other medical uses? It turns out that botox can be used to aid in therapy for many dental, facial pain disorders.

Botox As A Medicine

Botox can be used for the following disorders:

-Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) and Facial Pain Management – TMD is a very difficult disorder to treat since its symptoms are so varied. The goal of treatment in TMD has been to provide non -invasive, reversible treatment options. Surgery is an option, although rarely utilized, due to it’s limited success. Botox gives the dentist the ability to relieve TMD and facial pain symptoms for a short period of time (weeks to months per treatment). In TMD and facial pain disorder, there are muscular trigger points that radiate outward through the nerve bundles. The  injection of Botox into these trigger point areas, “freezes ” the ability of the muscle  by paralyzing it for a while, can help relieve the intensity of the TMJ muscle contractions. The relief can last up to three months. This temporary muscle paralysis makes Botox a great tool in the treatment and management of TMD and facial pain disorders.

-Teeth Clenching (Bruxism) – This treatment becomes somewhat tricky as the dose is very important here. Too much botox into the area of the mastication muscles can paralyze these muscles and disrupt a person’s ability to chew and speak. Too small a dose and it has little to no effect. The proper dose will reduce the intensity of the muscles contraction, allowing the patient to still be able to chew and speak properly. When done correctly, the patient will see relief from facial pain and limit the damage done by the teeth clenching, as the force is no longer there to do damage to oral tissues.

-Orthodontics – Our muscles play a huge role in where our teeth line up. Following orthodontic therapy some patients teeth will relapse and this may be due to placement of that individual’s musculature. Many patients have an over active mentalis muscle that often causes relapse of the teeth and may cause spasm of the muscles. Botox gives us the ability to reduce these spasms and contractions allowing for limited relapse following orthodontic treatment.

-Treatment of Migraine, and other Headaches – Generally, migraines have been a source of the unknown for many patients. Migraines have multiple symptoms beyond just headaches. These can include nausea, dizziness, and even light sensitivity. The use of Botox can relieve these symptoms. The placement of a few well placed injections around the temples, forehead, and neck/shoulder area can ease these symptoms by preventing the pain signals to reach the nerve bundles on the head and neck. This can also relieve severe headaches in the forehead region, if you suffer from them frequently. This can get quite expensive but for those suffering it can be well worth the cost to feel pain free again.

-Controlling Excess Saliva Production (also called sialorrhea) – The more common term for this is drooling. While there are other treatments for this, botox gives the ability to stop the excessive salivary production by injecting into the parotid and submaxillary glands. Again, this treatment is very dose specific. Too high a dose can disrupt a person’s chewing ability and also lead to dry mouth (xerostomia).

-Facial Asymmetry – In many of us, the muscles of the face may be asymmetrical leading to an imbalanced look to the face. Botox can restore that symmetry by balancing the facial muscles. Eyebrow lift, or depression of the brow can be enhanced with properly placed botox.

-Gummy Smile – This is shown as a smile that shows too much gum tissue. This usually is the result of the lip rising too high when smiling. Injecting Botox into the upper lip weakens the retractor muscles of the upper lip so that it won’t raise as high and your smile will seem better-balanced.

-Trigeminal Neuralgia- This extremely painful condition can be brought about by something as simple as air blowing on your face. Freezing a few select muscles on the affected side of the face can bring relief from extreme pain, and piece of mind. Not having to worry about accidentally setting off the facial pain can give you your life back.

Conclusion

As with any botox application, training is critical. The injector should be well versed in not only a person’s anatomy but also in the use of the right dosing of the botox. Too little and there will be no relief from symptoms while too much botox can lead to disabling effects. Botox gives patients and doctors a new world of possible treatments that can lead to better lives for all of us.