Botox® is used as an alternative treatment for TMJ disorders and associated jaw tension and pain. It may help treat symptoms such as jaw tension, headaches due to teeth grinding, and lockjaw in cases of severe stress.
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. It is the joint where the jaw hinges on the temporal bone. But more often than not, when people say “TMJ,” they usually refer to the pain and discomfort they are feeling anywhere around the jaw, which may include the neck muscles.
But the more accurate term for the condition is actually “TMD” or TMJ disorder.
If you suffer from TMJ disorder, Botox® may help treat your symptoms. Most of the time, this alternative treatment for TMJ disorders is used when other methods haven’t worked for you. Botox® treatment is usually quick, straightforward, and effective.
Botox®, a neurotoxin protein, is injected into your facial muscles. This may provide immediate relief from pain and jaw tension. The injection can also effectively eliminate headaches caused by teeth grinding. It can also minimize lock jaws.
Relief can take up to a week. Most patients experience noticeable improvement within one or two days of their first treatment.
Botox® injections are non-surgical and can be administered in your doctor’s office. There’s no need to stay at a hospital.
Your doctor will determine the number of injections you will need. And the length of time the procedure will take will depend on the number of injections. Usually, the whole procedure can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
Your doctor will inject Botox® into your facial muscles. Depending on your symptoms, they may also inject into other areas.
Botox® causes a partial paralysis to the injected muscles. It relaxes the affected muscles and relieves pain. A few patients have experienced swelling and bruising at the injection site. But most patients don’t experience visible marks.
Do not use Botox® injection treatments if you are pregnant and/or when you are lactating.
Patients may feel pain at the injection site itself upon injection of Botox® for TMJ disorders.
However, pain is generally minimal and doesn’t last more than a few minutes. Some patients describe the injection itself to be like a “bug bite” or a “prick.” Ice packs or anesthetic creams may be applied to help relieve the pain.
Only the muscles that were injected with the toxin will be affected. No other muscles or body parts should be affected.
The muscles that are usually treated are the temporalis, frontalis, and/or masseter muscles. However, depending on your symptoms and how severe your symptoms are, other sites may be treated as well.
The Botox® treatment for TMJ disorders is non-invasive, non-surgical, and does not require you to go to a hospital.
Ask your doctor about your physical activities after the procedure. But most patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately.
Do not massage or rub the areas of injections. This will prevent the toxin from spreading to other muscles. Your doctor might ask you to remain in an upright position and/or limit your physical activities for a specific time period.
Botox® injections have shown to be a safe and effective treatment for TMJ disorders.
However, like any medical procedure, there are risks and side effects from a Botox® injection. But since this procedure is non-invasive, complications are minimal, infrequent, and most likely temporary.
Right after the procedure, you may experience mild and temporary bruising, numbness, or redness around the injection areas. But relief from muscle tenderness will begin within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.
The most common reported side effects of Botox® injections are the following:
Temporary drooping of the eye-lid
An evidence-based review has shown that Botox® can cause a “fixed” smile. This could last six weeks to eight weeks. This side effect is caused by the toxin’s paralyzing effect on muscles.
Other side effects include pain, redness, and bruising at the injection site. Some experience muscle weakness. These side effects generally appear within the first week of treatment.
Side effects caused by Botox® injections around the mouth can potentially cause inconvenience to everyday life. This is because the lips are engaged more in everyday activities such as talking and chewing, even kissing. Moreover, too much Botox® toxin around the mouth can result in drooling. Talk to your doctor about your concerns about injections around the mouth and it’s side effects.
Botox® is not a permanent solution to TMJ. Although it can provide immediate relief, the toxin wears off over time. Resistance to the toxin may develop if you always use these injections because antibodies may develop that would render the neurotoxin less effective with each injection.
This resistance could be delayed by using the lowest effective dose possible over the longest intervals of time. Ask your doctor for the most effective dosage and time interval.
The cost of this treatment depends on the number of injections you need. Your doctor will determine this for you upon examination.
Botox® injections aren’t the only treatment for TMJ disorders. There are other surgical and nonsurgical options that can ease your symptoms.
Traditional and alternative treatments for TMJ you might want to try first include the following:
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
Oral splints or mouth guards
Open-joint surgery to repair or replace the joint
Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery that uses a scope and small instruments to treat TMJ disorders
Arthrocentesis, a minimally invasive procedure that helps remove debris and inflammatory byproducts
Surgery on the mandible to treat pain and lockjaw
Please call our office about the Botox® Treatment for TMJ disorders and jaw tension at (858) 683-4862.