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BOTOX for TMJ Pain and Headaches

April 12, 2021
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Posted By: Bryant Anderson, DMD
Patient with TMJ and jaw pain

BOTOX for TMJ Pain and Headaches

We hope you’ve been following along on our TMJ disorder series. (If not, you can catch up by reading this article about symptoms and causes, and this one on night guards.) There is one amazing tool for treating TMJ pain and related symptoms like headaches which we have not talked about yet. BOTOX therapy is a true game changer.

More Than Cosmetic, BOTOX Can Be Therapeutic!

Most people know BOTOX for its amazing cosmetic applications. It can smooth out those wrinkles and take years off your face in a snap. (And yes, Dr. Anderson is trained in advanced cosmetic applications as well.) But did you know it can also relieve the pain and tension headaches associated with clenching and grinding, too?

For TMJ disorders stemming from overused closing muscles, BOTOX provides significant relief. While it is not the main treatment for every type of TMJ disorder, such as arthritis in the jaw joint for example, it does help significantly for most cases.

How BOTOX Can Relieve TMJ Pain and Headaches

The sore muscles, tender jaw, tooth pain and sensitivity, and tension headaches associated with grinding and clenching can be significant. By dialing down the intensity of those strong closing muscles, BOTOX can prevent you from unconsciously applying excess pressure. Think of it this way: all that tension in your jaw is like flexing your bicep as hard as you can and then just keeping it there. BOTOX can give those muscles a chance to return to a normal level of tension, a chance to relax when they should relax!

Unlike cosmetic applications, therapeutic BOTOX will not completely paralyze those large chewing muscles. It only knocks out a few muscle fibers in the masseters and temporalis, where you are overusing them. You will still be able to use your jaw normally, it just won’t be overfiring on its own.

How It Works

First, talk to your dental team about your concerns. If you feel like you are grinding, clenching, or experiencing other problems like headaches or cracked teeth (like we talked about in that earlier blog post), let our office know. Dr. Anderson is more than happy to talk you through the problem and determine whether BOTOX might be an appropriate treatment for your particular case.

If you decide together that BOTOX will work for you, the procedure is a breeze. While we know most people are at least a little needle-phobic, even the most injection-averse patients find BOTOX to be super easy and pretty much painless. The needle is whisper thin and super short. It feels more like the sting of static when you pull on a wool sweater for most people. 

Also, while cosmetic BOTOX necessitates many injection sites to address the array of tiny muscles that cause wrinkles, therapeutic BOTOX usually only takes about two to four on each side (which can vary depending on your anatomy). It’s over in minutes.

BOTOX in conjunction with a night guard can truly be life changing for many patients. However, be aware that it does wear off over time and may need to be reapplied periodically. The timeframe is different for everyone, but most people find that they can space out their treatments more and more as they go along. If you have any questions about BOTOX for TMJ pain, do not hesitate to ask! And if you want to know about cosmetics while we’re on the topic, we’ve got you covered. We look forward to helping you achieve optimal jaw health.

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