BOTOX is well-known as the purified toxin solution that is injected into the face to stop it from creating wrinkles. You might be surprised to know that dentists are better trained than most other medical professionals to provide such injections. It also helps that we have had extensive experience with everything to do with the face and mouth, including administering anesthesia.
But BOTOX is more than a way to have a youthful-looking face. Among its 20 medical uses is its ability to relieve the pain of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. These joints are the hinges connecting the lower jaw to the skull, which you can feel by putting your finger in front of your lower ears and opening and closing your mouth.
A variety of things can cause the joint to dysfunction, typically indicated by clicking sounds when opening or closing the mouth or difficulty in doing this at all. About 40% of cases last more than five years. Other symptoms can be tooth sensitivity, soreness or swelling on the side of the face, pain or discomfort around the neck or shoulders, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the ends of fingers, migraine headaches, and ringing, congestion, or pain in the ears.
An estimated 20-30% of American adults are affected at one time or another, usually ages 20 to 40, and predominantly female. TMJ disorder in many cases is due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies because of menstruation, which affects the bones of joints. It can also occur in women because of their use of oral contraceptives or because they are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. A range of other causes includes missing teeth that throw off the jaw alignment, excessive gum chewing, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and a blow to the head.
BOTOX can be injected into the muscles surrounding these joints to decrease spasms and restore TMJ function. It can block pain signals from muscles and nerves to the brain and relieve muscle tension in the jaw, which leads to a reduction in the amount of teeth grinding at night.
There can be some unexpected positive side-effect for patients who have received BOTOX treatments for TMJ. They sometimes report that they sleep better, feel less anxious, have fewer and less intense headaches, even for migraines, and have less tooth sensitivity.
There are also other ways we can alleviate TMJ disorder, including creating an oral appliance to gradually reset the jaw and teaching you neuromuscular exercises to relax it.
If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, call us today to set an appointment for a consultation.