• Mary Swift, D.D.S. | General Dentist
  • Alana Reifer, D.D.S. | General Dentist
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Does Botox for TMJ Really Work?

Injection needle Photo

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect between five and 12 percent of Americans. If you're part of this group, you may be desperate for relief from your pain and discomfort.

If you've tried other treatment options and haven't been able to reduce your pain, you may want to consider trying Botox injections.

At this point you might be thinking, "Isn't Botox for people that want to get rid wrinkles?"

It's true that a lot of people (of all ages and genders) get Botox injections to prevent and minimize wrinkles. But, Botox can do a lot more than enhance your appearance.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of Botox for TMJ disorders.

What is Botox?

Botox injections utilize a specific neurotoxin. This neurotoxin is known as botulinum toxin type A. When it's injected into a muscle, it temporarily paralyzes it and prevents it from contracting.

This muscle paralysis helps to minimize the appearance of wrinkles and prevents muscle spasms.

In the case of people who suffer from TMJ disorders, Botox injections also help to relax the muscles in the jaw. This forced relaxation, in turn, helps to minimize pain, inflammation, stiffness, and a variety of other TMJ-related symptoms.

Botox was originally approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat blepharospasms and other issues that affect the eye muscles. In 2002, it was also approved as a cosmetic treatment to reduce wrinkles.

Benefits of Botox for TMJ Disorders

In people who struggle with TMJ disorders, Botox injections can help treat the following systems:

  • Pain and tension in the jaw
  • Headaches related to teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Lockjaw when severe stress occurs

At this point, the FDA still considers Botox injections to be an experimental treatment option for TMJ disorders.

It may be considered experimental, but there is still some promising research indicating that Botox can be very beneficial. It may even be especially promising for people who haven't responded well to other treatment options.

One study found that people who had Botox injections experienced significant decreases in their pain for three months following their treatment.

These patients also experienced an improvement in their ability to move their mouth and jaw, and seventy percent of them noticed a reduction in muscle tenderness.

Another study showed that 90 percent of the participants (who hadn't responded to other, more conservative treatments) saw improvements in their symptoms.

Ideal Botox Candidate

Botox injections can be very effective for some people who suffer from TMJ disorders. The ideal candidate for this treatment typically meets the following criteria:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 65
  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • Has no allergies to the ingredients used in Botox injections

The ideal candidate also won't be taking any medications or supplements (such as steroids, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, etc.) that can interact negatively when they're combined with the ingredients found in Botox injections.

What to Expect from Botox Treatments

If you're curious about trying Botox injections to treat your TMJ disorder, you might also be curious about what the treatment typically entails.

Every treatment will be a bit different, but the basics are the same no matter where you go.

Some general facts you should know about this treatment include:

  • The procedure takes between 10 and 30 minutes
  • Some patients request anesthesia to help feel more relaxed, but the injections themselves cause minimal discomfort in most cases
  • You'll typically receive injections in the forehead, jaw muscles, and temples
  • There's no downtime required after treatment -- you can resume normal activities right away
  • You can use an ice pack on the affected area if you experience any pain after the treatment
  • You should stay upright and avoid massaging or rubbing the injection site for several hours -- this helps reduce the risk of the toxin spreading to other muscles

Most patients experience relief from their discomfort and other symptoms about 1-2 days after receiving the injections. The relief typically lasts for up to four months, then a follow-up treatment will be required.

It's best to prolong the follow-up injections for as long as possible, though. Otherwise, the body can build up antibodies that will make future Botox injections less effective.

Keep in mind that over time, with frequent treatments, the jaw muscles will begin atrophying. As a result, the treatments will be needed less often.

Treatment Cost

Botox injections for TMJ disorders can be quite expensive. They are considered an elective treatment, and, because the FDA still deems them experimental, insurance providers typically won't cover them.

Don't let this information stop you from seeking treatment, though. It never hurts to ask your insurance provider. In some cases, they might surprise you and cover at least a portion of the treatment.

Insurance coverage affects the cost of Botox injections, but there are other factors involved, too, such as the severity of your condition and symptoms and the number of injections you need. Your geographic location also plays a role in the treatment cost.

Potential Side Effects

Most people don't experience any major side effects when they receive Botox injections to help treat their TMJ symptoms. Common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Respiratory infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • A temporary "droop" in the eyelid

Patients might also experience pain, redness, and bruising at the injection site, as well as some muscle weakness.

In some cases, people also experience a "fixed" smile after receiving Botox injections. This has to do with the paralyzing effect that the toxin has on the muscles. This side effect can last up to 6-8 weeks before it fades away.

Get Botox for TMJ Today

As you can see, there are lots of benefits of Botox for TMJ disorders.

Are you tired of using other treatments that don't seem to provide you with any relief? Are you interested in giving Botox injections a try?

If you are interested and live in or around the Dallas, Texas area, we can help at Dallas Laser Dentistry.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We'll assess your condition and help you decide whether or not Botox injections are the right choice for you.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.