Most people know of Botox from its cosmetic uses in wrinkle-reduction. But Botox can also be used for the relief of migraines, chronic headaches, bruxism, and TMJ jaw pain. Jaw pain or headaches are often directly related to dental issues – most notably, bruxism (teeth grinding) or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).
Bruxism often occurs at night, and most people are completely unaware that they are grinding their teeth. Many people who suffer from bruxism are unaware they grind their teeth until told by their partner, dentist, or they start experience symptoms. Symptoms of bruxism include headaches, earaches, and jaw pain. Bruxism can eventually lead to loss of tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity, and chipped teeth.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD) refer to disorders of the jaw muscles and the temporomandibular joints of the jaw. Approximately 20-30% of adults experience some form of TMJD, but the disorder is most commonly experiences by women and by persons between the ages of 20 and 40.
TMJD can be difficult to diagnose and treat because of their complexity, and symptoms associated with TMJD can also be associated with other disorders or conditions. TMJD is not a single condition, but results from multiple factors which combine to cause pain and discomfort. Causes of TMJD include bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), stress, arthritis, and problems with the temporomandibular joint itself. Symptoms may include pain and headache, limited range of opening, clicking or popping sounds when opening, or locking of the jaw.
Dentists are highly trained in the anatomy of the face, mouth, head, neck and jaw, and are therefore uniquely positioned to provide Botox to treat these disorders. Injecting Botox into specific muscles results in a reduction in jaw tension, headaches, and head and neck pain.
Botox is injected directly into the large muscle that moves the jaw, targeting and reducing muscle activity and helping to partially paralyze or weaken the muscles that cause teeth grinding and clenching. While oral appliances like night guards protect the teeth against grinding, they do not address the cause of the actual grinding itself.
Though not a cure, Botox can help manage bruxism symptoms and eliminate the need for a night guard, and results can last 3-4 months.
Does Insurance Cover Botox for Dental Issues?
Your medical insurance may cover Botox. Our insurance experts can call your insurance company and find out if it is a covered service, submit documentation for medical necessity and then submit the insurance claims on your behalf.
Side effects of Botox
Similarly to using Botox for cosmetic purposes, side effects may include bruising, redness, or swelling. Some patients also report neck pain, headaches, or nausea. Patients who wish to undergo Botox injections should disclose their entire medical history, be in generally good health, not be pregnant or nursing, and be infection free. You should not have Botox treatment if you have are allergic to any of its ingredients.
Recovery after Botox Treatments
The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes and does not require any anesthesia. Patients can resume normal daily activities immediately following the procedure, but should avoid applying makeup, rubbing or massaging the area or laying down for approximately 4 hours after the injections. Most patients begin to feel relief from TMJD, bruxism, or migraines within 3-5 days, though it may take up to 10-14 days. Botox lasts about 3 months and after 2-3 Botox treatments, the muscles should begin to relax for longer periods of time.
Is Botox Right for Me?
There are multiple alternatives to Botox for treatment of TMJD and bruxism. These include over-the-counter medications, including dental work to improve the bite, stress management, and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.