TMJ Botox Treatment:
A Detailed Guide
Have you experienced jaw discomfort, clicking sounds, or pain from chewing? If so, TMJ issues may be the culprit.
In this guide, you’ll learn the details of TMJ including:
- A background on TMJ
- Causes & symptoms of TMJ
- TMJ’s diagnosis process
- The routine of TMJ treatment
- Lots more
Ready to learn more?
Let’s dive in.
Botox battles the clock – we all know that. But, the neurotoxin that makes for smooth aging has been up to much more than just that since its inception in the ‘80s. From improving appearances to alleviating migraines and muscle contractions, the botulinum toxin’s medical applications are, well… a mouth full. So, what can it do for you from a dental health perspective? TMJ botox helps address painful headaches and other symptoms caused by your jaw muscles – and it does help with aging, but not in the way you’re thinking.
The complex makeup of muscles, tendons and ligaments that operate the mouth can be disrupted and, for the average person, stress is the most notable culprit. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, sets in when particularly the joint that literally connects the mind to the mouth is injured. And the real kicker is that, while a conscious effort to not grind or clench one’s teeth can be made (I’m stressed just thinking about it), the heaviest toll these unconscious oral habits take on your teeth is totally out of your control.
What is TMJ?
Sleep bruxism, the official term for this bad habit, accounts for most of the risk to the temporomandibular joints (or mouth-to-mind knots). Ironic that this link between speech and psyche suffers most when you’re not even conscious, but the human race just hasn’t evolved to the point where it can account for bite strength while snoozing yet. In fact, according to Sleep Foundation, humans are capable of biting down with a force of up to 250 pounds as they’re getting what was supposed to be their beauty sleep. All this activity stimulates the masseters, allowing the most prominent chewing muscles to grow stronger. And what do stronger muscles do? Well, in this case, they make you grind your teeth harder. And that not only means more damage to your teeth, but more strain on your temporomandibular joints in the long term, too.
In cases where what can only be described as incessant, unwoken mastication leads to injury and inflammation to the temporomandibular joints, headaches, jaw pain, stiff facial and neck muscles and a host of other symptoms can set in, including:
- Jaw pain in and around the area of the temporomandibular joint.
- Popping or clicking sounds accompanying jaw movements.
- Sensations resembling a toothache and even an earache, along with cracking, ringing, and popping sounds, and a sense of fullness in one’s ears, in some cases.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Blurred vision.
- Sore, tight or stiff neck and jaw muscles, as well as spasms.
- Pain around the mouth, jaw, cheek, the base of the tongue, the temple areas or numbness and tingling in the chin, depending on affected areas.
- Difficulty when chewing
- Shoulder pain
- And even dizziness or vertigo
Diagnosing and treatments
TMJ symptoms vary considerably and may appear when you are suffering from any form of TMJ disorder. Symptoms can vary depending on the nature of the disorder, severity of the issue, time since the TMJ disorder first developed, and more.
While certain symptoms may be obvious, such as swelling, others may be be more unnoticeable. As such, you may be the only one to notice them, such as headaches, neck pains, locked jaw, and so on. In addition, there are symptoms that are not even observable by your own self; only your TMJ specialist being able to discern them.
Partial List of TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Stemming from root causes like grinding your teeth to deal with stress (or just doing it while you’re asleep for some reason) or a misaligned bite because you never got braces, TMJ almost never recedes without medical intervention. Your body’s natural adjustment processes intervene to try and cope with the abnormal temporomandibular joints causing you pain by heroically trying to alter your posture. Shrugged shoulders, spinal misalignment and hunching could set in as attempts to avoid pain when these symptoms are left unaddressed. Other natural body adjustments may also lead to spinal pain as a result of neck movements that seek to alleviate pain in the short term.
Sounds terrible? That’s not even the worst part. It’s even responsible for an accelerated appearance of ageing, as shorter teeth make for a reduced lower face volume, which generally only sets in with old age. While this and other, more serious long-term health impacts of untreated TMJ syndrome can be startling to read about, treatments and diagnoses are readily available to help you avoid them altogether.
Did you note any parallels between your experiences and any of these symptoms? Desk research like you’re doing now can shed light on some of the burning questions you may have around the experience of consistent headaches, jaw pains and sore muscles, but TMJ should be diagnosed and treated by a dentist or doctor with proven experience in such cases. Lucky Calgarians can turn to the Glenbrook Dental Centre’s Dr. James Park & Dr. Neerja Khosla, who have special interest and experience treating multiple cases of the syndrome for patients in the greater Calgary area.
Where does the journey toward curbing TMJ begin? To start, dentists like Dr. Park & Khosla can employ a spectrum of diagnostic methods to accurately identify the syndrome and its severity.
- TENS Therapy or Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation is a specialised process whereby mild electrical pulses are used to stimulate blood flow in the affected area. The specialist can derive insights from this process to establish the best alignment for your jaw joints.
- Electromyography or EMG assists the study of active and resting jaw muscle activity across their movement states. This allows the specialist to pinpoint where the jaw joint is putting stress on your related muscles.
- Electrosonography or ESG helps specialists compare normal and dysfunctional jaw joints through the use of microphones.
- K7 Computerized Jaw Scanning supplies specialists with a visual representation of how your jaw joints are moving. Data is similarly collected for comparison with normal jaw joint behaviour.
- CT Scans can be implemented in cases where TMJ is connected to chronic headaches, for example. The scan reveals misalignments in the jaw through a non-invasive imaging process used in radiology and is considered the most effective method of diagnosing the syndrome.
- MRI Scans can be used to determine jaw joint damage in some cases. By using strong magnetic fields and radio waves, images of the jaw joints can be generated to inform the specialist’s decision on best potential treatment avenues for a given patient.
Sleep bruxism aside, TMJ can be caused by other factors outside of your control, like malocclusion or teeth misalignment, as well as arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders. In the realm that you do control, however, working toward a better posture, managing stress and anxiety or simply trying to chew less gum can help reduce your risk of TMJ.
Treatments for the syndrome can range from stretching techniques to chiropractic interventions. Patients who suffer from TMJ could also benefit from hot and cold therapy, acupuncture, oral surgery or a mere recommendation of avocados and smoothies or other soft foods to help alleviate symptoms. Patients consulting a specialist about the condition might consider treatments stretching from mouthguards to surgery, depending on severity. In the case of Glenbrook, Dr. Park and Khosla’s practice considers a variety of suitable long-term solutions for its patients, each catering to a different aspect of TMJ. Some cases simply call for TMJ botox, after all.
The TMJ botox procedure
Botox (or the Botulinum toxin type A, to be exact) works by essentially shutting down certain muscles. By wielding its ability to block chemical receptors that communicate with the central nervous system or by paralyzing the associated muscles, medical practitioners have innovated with botox across a variety of use cases. TMJ botox injections specifically target the masseter muscles responsible for your powerful 250 pound bite to curb stress on the temporomandibular joint which causes patients discomfort (if that’s how you see migraines).
As a result, these muscles are much less prone to engaging in sleep bruxism-related behaviour. With the cessation of unconscious teeth grinding and its exacerbation of the temporomandibular joint, comorbid headaches and other symptoms should begin to subside, as well. TMJ botox constitutes a low risk solution to rectify behaviours as root causes of the syndrome. The more than 600 studies evaluating the injection of botulinum toxin into the masseter muscle, however, have not seen this treatment become a Food and Drug Administration approved procedure. While the procedure has proven to be an effective measure to address TMJ, one significant implication of its off-label use in dentistry is that insurance might not cover its associated costs. That said, it never hurts to check with your insurance provider and find out whether your dentist advises botox as a suitable intervention for the syndrome.
So, we promised that TMJ botox can improve patients’ appearance, didn’t we? While the primary focus of the procedure is to eviscerate any and all discomfort, pain and negative health impacts caused by TMJ, the reduced masseter muscle mass also means that your face becomes slimmer. And let’s not forget you getting to keep your full lower face volume with those pearly whites lasting longer.
Once you stop grinding your teeth, you improve their longevity, your quality of life and even your posture. Seek out accredited medical practitioners specializing in TMJ for a diagnosis if you suspect that you’ve encountered TMJ. Glenbrook’s Dr. Park & Khosla are certainly dentists with proven experience in sending Calgary residents home with a comfortable jaw, rather than a swollen one, when it comes to treating TMJ!
No. Botox TMJ treatment is a palliative and adjuntive procedure.
Orthodontic specialists can help in reviewing jaw and teeth misalignments, and medical specialists may be required to diagnose and treat problems associated with the sinus, tonsils, adenoids, and other areas of the head and neck.
Only areas targeted by the injection will be affected. It will not affect any other areas of the body.
Depending on the number of injections, TMJ botox procedures can take between 10 to 30 minutes.
Pain associated with TMJ botox procedures stem solely from the injections. Whereas some patients deem these injections painful, others barely notice them. Receiving yours from a trained specialist should minimize any discomfort.
Soreness and tenderness may begin to recede immediately. Temporary bruising, numbness or redness around injection sites may occur, but these instances are rare.
By essentially reducing the masseter muscle’s gym routine, the face could appear more slender.
Side-effects are infrequent and impermanent. Documented side-effects from botox include headaches, respiratory infection and flu syndrome, but occur in minimal cases. Be sure to receive appropriate dosages from a trained TMJ medical specialist.
Depending on the patient’s metabolism, the intervention can last between three to six months.
To best address the pain relief objective of the procedure, a three month period between injections is recommended.
We recommend minimizing risk by only seeking out the procedure when necessary, and to utilize skilled specialists to that end. If the masseter muscles are not enlarged, applying botox may weaken the functionality of the mouth, as well as weakening the appearance of the jawline.
What options are available to a patient suffering from an altered appearance resulting from the procedure?
There are no medical avenues to pursue to revert the effects of botox. The body must naturally recreate receptors for the affected muscles to return to their original state prior to the procedure.
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