Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as TMJ or TMJ Syndrome, can lead to painful problems like jaw pain and clicking/locking of the jaw that can make it difficult to chew. TMJ can also cause ear pain and headaches. Needless to say, anyone who suffers from TMJ is likely desperate for a solution.
There are some treatments traditionally used to help relieve TMJ pain, like physical therapy, pain relieving medication, or mouth guards. But there are other treatments you can try as well. One seems rather unconventional, but is being used more often: Botox.
Yes, the same Botox that is used to minimize the appearance of wrinkles can also be used to relieve TMJ pain. But what should you know about this treatment before you consider it for yourself? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions.
What is Botox?
At the most basic level, Botox is an injectable muscle relaxer. By temporarily paralyzing muscles, it helps minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles, particularly around the eyes and on the forehead.
Is Botox safe?
Botox is considered safe and minimally invasive. However, it should be noted that the use of Botox for treating TMJ is still considered experimental, though usually effective.
How does Botox help with TMJ pain?
Botox can help relax the muscles in the jaw, easing the tension that can build there (sometimes without you even noticing it). Many people that use Botox for TMJ pain report that they experience less pain, and better jaw movement, after receiving treatment.
What is the treatment procedure like?
Your dentist is likely able to perform the Botox treatment for you, right in their office. It’s a simple, quick, and relatively painless outpatient procedure.
Before your appointment, you and your dentist will discuss your options, including how many injections you need in order to treat your TMJ pain.
Typically, the injection sites can be numbed, lessening the pain of the injection itself. Most Botox treatments are completed in less than 30 minutes (sometimes as little as 10).
Is there a recovery period?
For most people, recovery is quick and straightforward. There may be slight redness or very minor bruising around the injection site. A few people may experience headaches or nausea. That said, most patients can resume normal life immediately, without interruption. It is recommended that patients do not rub or massage injection sites for several hours after the treatment, as this could potentially spread the toxin to other muscles.
Your dentist will go over any other restrictions or concerns with you at the time of your treatment.
How long will it take to feel relief?
Some patients experience some level of relief right away, and most feel more relief within a few hours. That said, it can take a day or two for the treatment to fully take effect. Usually, the effects of Botox last for three or four months.
What is the cost of Botox treatment?
The cost can vary widely depending on your provider and how much Botox you need. Because Botox is still considered to be an experimental treatment for TMJ, you should not count on your insurance paying for the procedure.
How do I know if this treatment is right for me?
The only way to be sure is to talk to your dentist. They will likely recommend other treatments for your TMJ disorder as well, including at-home treatments such as stress relief and avoiding excessive chewing (including chewing gum or biting nails). If more treatment is necessary or you aren’t getting relief from any of the preliminary treatments, your dentist may recommend Botox.
Your dentist should do everything possible to help you make an informed decision that you are comfortable with. If you have any questions about using Botox for TMJ, or any other dentistry procedure, please do not hesitate to call us at Smile Concepts in Scottsdale! We’d love to help you reveal your happiest, healthiest smile!