Botox cosmetic has been used by plastic surgeons for years for cosmetic reasons. Dentists more recently have been using Botox for similar reasons but also as additional therapies. These therapies can now include therapy for Temperomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ). Botox can be used to treat tension in the jaws, headaches from bruxism (teeth grinding), and even possibly lockjaw in severe scenarios.
Botox for TMJ has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as treatment for temperomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). However, Botox has been approved by the FDA for painful conditions such as migraines. Migraines are potentially related to TMJ disorder. Clinical trials published so far have been small and have produce inconsistent findings. A 2012 study found that Botox could significantly decrease pain and increase mouth movements for three months following treatment. However, this was an extremely small study that had under 30 participants. Similar studies have been completed which showed significant results as well. To date there has not been a large enough study to definitively tell if botox for TMJ is the answer to TMJ disorders. Other studies include one 2016 study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that TMJ patients who had Botox for TMJ treatments experienced a reduction in pain and headaches, which led to requiring fewer painkilling drugs. In 2003, a clinical study from the University of Bonn discovered that approximately 90% of all study participants who had not responded favorably to conventional TMJ treatments saw significant improvements after using Botox for TMJ to address their TMJ related pain symptoms.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the area right in front of the ear on either side of the face where the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) meet. Muscles attached to and surrounding the temperomandibular joint control the position and movement of the jaw. This joint is a very unique sliding “ball and socket” that has a disc sandwiched between it, it is the only joint in the body which can move in all directions. The temporomandibular joint functions to move the jaw, especially in biting and chewing, talking, and yawning. It is one of the most used joints in the body.
The temporomandibular joints are a very complex system and are made up of muscles, tendons, a disc and bones. You have a temperomandibular joint on each side of your jaw (right and left side). Each individual part contributes to the smooth complex movement of the temperomandibular joint. When the muscles are relaxed and in balance and both jaw joints open and close comfortably, we are able to talk, chew, or yawn without any discomfort or pain.
TMJ disorders can be a very complex set of problems of the jaw joint. The muscles and joints work together in harmony. A problem with either the muscles or the joints or both can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (also referred to as a malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws. TMJ disorders can be caused by many different types of problems. These can include arthritis, trauma to the jaw, or muscle fatigue from clenching or grinding your teeth. TMJ disorders most commonly occur in women between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in teens following orthodontic treatment, and in both men and women at any age.
Botox For TMJ Side Effects
Botox For TMJ disorders is not without side effects. Botox itself has common side effects associated with its use in the area of the TMJ. These can include:
-bruising at injection site
-rash at injection site
-temporary eyelid droop
Botox For TMJ Procedure
Botox for TMJ is a non surgical procedure and completed in your dental office. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
The site for botox injection can vary depending on your symptoms but may include the following muscles:
- Temporalis muscle
- Frontalis muscle
- Masseter muscle
The injections are made with a small gauge needle and are not considered painful, but you may feel a slight prick or pinch as the Botox is injected into site. Your dentist may use a cold compress or local anesthetic to help reduce discomfort and make it more comfortable for you. Following the procedure, you can return to your regular routine immediately.
Some improvement can be felt within a day or two following Botox for TMJ treatment, it usually takes a few days to feel full relief. Some patients have reported that they feel best about 6-8 weeks following Botox for TMJ treatment.