Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is responsible for helping you chew, speak and even let out a yawn when you have stayed up a little too late. Also known as your jawbone, this joint connects your jaw to your skull, making it very important. Just as the joints in your knees, shoulders or elbow can malfunction, so can your jaw joint. This can cause pain, discomfort and even difficulty moving the jaw — a condition known as temporomandibular disorder or TMD.
While TMD sufferers often turned to custom-made mouthpieces to stop from grinding or clenching their teeth, soft diets and pain-relieving medications, these interventions do not always work. Dentists are now finding a new solution: BOTOX treatments for TMD pain.
BOTOX is an FDA-approved treatment for dynamic wrinkles, or those wrinkles that occur with movement, especially those of the forehead. BOTOX is a form of botulinum toxin that temporarily paralyzes the muscle to help the person appear younger.
Doctors and researchers are now expanding the uses for BOTOX. From injecting it into overactive sweat glands to using it to treat crossed eyes or strabismus, BOTOX has the potential to help patients find a solution for many over-active muscle conditions.
Not all TMD causes are due to muscle-related pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, in some instances, arthritis or injury to the bones themselves can cause a person to experience TMD pain. A dentist will typically begin with a thorough evaluation to determine possible TMD causes. This can include a physical examination and imaging, such as an X-ray to determine potential reasons why TMD pain is occurring.
How BOTOX Helps TMJ
The FDA has not approved BOTOX for the specific use of treating TMD. Researchers are still investigating exactly how BOTOX can help people overcome TMD pain. However, an increasing number of dentists are utilizing BOTOX treatments as a means to help their patients find relief. An example is Seidner Dentistry & Associates, a Randolph, NJ practice that uses BOTOX both for wrinkle treatments as well as TMD relief at the practice.
According to the Seidner Dentistry website, this treatment takes five to 15 minutes to perform. BOTOX is injected into key areas to the facial muscles, allowing overworked jaw muscles to relax. While BOTOX injections do help to reduce pain, the injections do not affect a person’s ability to eat, chew or speak.
BOTOX is considered a temporary solution for jaw pain. In roughly three to four months, the body starts to absorb the botulinum toxin. However, additional injections can be administered to offer further relief. Over time, the muscles will start to relax longer between treatments. This means that patients will have to have fewer treatments per year.
BOTOX is not without its side effects. These include temporary numbness, bruising, pain at the injection site, nausea or flu-like symptoms. Side effects should be considered before receiving BOTOX treatments.