The Truth About Botox for TMJ Disorders

Botox quickly gained an excellent reputation for its ability to fight fine lines and wrinkles. Now the neuromodulator is being applauded for its ability to: help realign lazy eyes (when injected into a key eye muscle); give the appearance of a more elongated face (when injected into the chin); alleviate hyperhidrosis (i.e. excessive underarm sweating); relieve migraines; and even relieve an overactive bladder. Additionally, if you have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, a group of facial bone disorders that can cause severe pain, tenderness, and decreased range of motion in the jaw, the Botox can also help you.

What is ATM?

Before revealing the correlation between Botox and TMJ, it is useful to know what TMJ is from a holistic perspective. Short for temporomandibular joint, TMJ is a disorder that resides in the jaw joint. This is important to note because TMJ is often confused with TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) which is actually the category assigned to a handful of disorders that can affect the jaw joint. Simply put, TMJ refers to the joint itself, while TMD refers to disorders that can wreak havoc on Gasket.

“TMD/TMJ problems are orthopedic problems involving the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons,” says orofacial pain specialist Donald R. Tanenbaum, DDS, MPH. “Common problems are joint sprains, tendon strains and muscle problems including pain, spasms, inflammation and tension.” The cause of these symptoms is simple: overuse.

“Behaviors and habits such as biting of nails and cuticles, touching or clenching of teeth, overuse of jaw muscles, which may lead to muscle injury and symptoms of pain, limited jaw movement, inability to bring teeth together normally and/or tetanus,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. “Additionally, grinding and clenching your teeth during sleeping hours can also overwork and strain your jaw muscles, leading to morning headaches, jaw muscle pain, aching teeth, and limited jaw movement. jaw.

Does Botox Really Help TMJ Disorders?

Think about how Botox works: it’s designed to inhibit muscle contraction. As such, injecting Botox into the masseter (the muscle that is largely responsible for jaw movement) can, indeed, alleviate the overstimulation of certain daily habits that can lead to TMJ issues. But do not worry ! Getting Botox won’t stop you from opening your mouth or impair your speech.

“Botox does not stop muscle contraction but reduces the intensity of the contraction,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. “As it works by reducing a muscle’s ability to contract and tighten as vigorously as usual, it can help muscles that have been overworked relax and regain their health.”

All this to say: Yes, Botox for ATM really Is work. “Botox injections can help reduce common TMJ symptoms of soreness, pain, tightness, tension, and fatigue,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. (But remember: this is still a relatively new practice. Most studies of Botox for TMJ insist that more research is needed to definitively prove the treatment’s benefits.)

One thing to note: Botox is not the solution to all TMJ/ATM problems. According to Dr. Tanenbaum, it is not regularly used to treat jaw clicking and locking issues.

Botox for TMJ Logistics

Although the masseter is the largest muscle in the jaw, Dr. Tanenbaum says that for the most effective treatment, Botox should be injected into the temporalis to treat TMJ.

“[The masseter and temporalis] bring the teeth together in the open mouth position,” he explains. “It’s called jaw elevators. Sometimes the jaw opening muscles, called lateral pterygoids, also need to be injected. [But] for the most part, the temporal and masseter are the focus of Botox injections.

Given the size of the jaw muscles, more units of Botox are needed to adequately soothe the contraction. “Typically, 25 to 30 units of Botox are needed in the right and left masseter muscles, and 20 units in the temporalis muscle,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. After being injected, he says most patients experience relief within five days, however, the most noticeable benefits appear around the two to three week mark, with full benefits lasting up to eight weeks. So, just like facial Botox, it’s important to know that the results won’t last forever.

Side effects of Botox for TMJ

When Botox is injected into the forehead, there is minimal concern of a paralyzed expression or a droopy eyelid. Although rare, it is possible. Likewise, Botox for TMJ has potential side effects, but they are rare. “Side effects only occur if the Botox is not injected in the right places, leading to sagging of the lip,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. “Otherwise, patients can chew, swallow and talk without concern.”

The downside of Botox for TMJ

When reviewing Botox for TMJ, Kate Zoumboukos, DMD of SW Austin Dental, calls out the cost of Botox. Although the neuromodulator is thought to have a strong benefit/risk ratio (and the Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery agrees), the high cost of treatment may take it off the table for many people.

Cost aside, Dr. Tanenbaum says that, as effective as Botox can be for TMJ, he doesn’t suggest it as a standalone therapy. “It should be supplemented with education, strategies to change jaw overuse behaviors during the day, jaw stretching exercises, breathing exercises to keep jaw and neck muscles relaxed, a oral appliance during sleeping hours to lessen the impact of bruxism and managing life stressors,” he shares. “These treatments are often helpful on their own or make Botox treatments more beneficial.”

Takeaway meals

Before modern medical advances, TMJ was relieved without the use of neuromodulators. While it’s possible, Dr. Tanenbaum says Botox is now a valuable treatment that has helped countless patients.

“It has been a great asset to use in patients who could not tolerate a bite device while sleeping, or [who] aggravated during their use,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. “It also helped patients who often strengthened their jaw muscles during the day, or lived with their teeth together, to change these behaviors, resulting in comfortable jaw muscles and fewer facial headaches. /temporals that would occur during the day.”

Still, Dr. Tanenbaum says Botox shouldn’t be seen as an eternity fix. Instead, Botox for TMJ should be used to initially relax the jaw in a way that helps the patient work comfortably on reducing jaw clenching behaviors. After all, you don’t want to overuse Botox for TMJ. “Continuous injections over several years can excessively weaken the jaw muscles and cause facial thinning that may not be desired by the patient,” says Dr. Tanenbaum. “On the other hand, some patients only come to see me to reduce their square facial profile by refining the masseters.”

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