Who would have thought dentists would be using BOTOX® injections to treat muscular problems in the jaw? But that is certainly the case. Traditionally, we have used a variety of oral appliances to relieve the stresses put on the teeth, the musculature, and the temporomandibular joint. One of the major problems with oral appliances is compliance. Many patients don’t want to wear them; some conveniently lose them; they can break; and some patients give it to the dog as a new chew toy!
It is difficult, if not impossible, to wear an oral appliance during the daytime. It is hard to speak and impossible to eat with one in the mouth, as well. Almost all oral appliances for grinding and clenching are made for nighttime use only, but many of these parafunctional habits occur during the daytime. With BOTOX® injections, the muscles are weakened so the destructiveness of these negative habits are greatly reduced, thereby reducing the negative effects of grinding/clenching during the day and night!
Over the last couple of years, it has been realized that by utilizing BOTOX® injections to reduce the action of the masseter and temporalis muscles (the muscles used in biting), the forces can be altered just enough as to be less destructive to the teeth and the joint.
BOTOX® injections can be used for TMJ treatment, TMD (muscular pain without joint involvement), and as an adjunct to oral appliance therapy. Yes, it can be used along with an oral appliance. It is not necessarily an either or situation.
A patient who grinds or clenches their teeth can cause lots of destruction to them. Grinding and clenching can wear into the dentin, which is the layer of the tooth below the enamel. Once the dentin is exposed, it takes less effort for more of the tooth to further degrade and erode because dentin is so much softer than enamel. BOTOX® injections can be used on specific areas of the mastication (chewing) muscles in order to reduce these forces to more manageable and less destructive amounts.
BOTOX® injections last approximately four months. If a patient grinds, clenches, has TMJ or TMD symptoms, or has periodontal issues, we very often recommend more frequent follow-up care which roughly coincides with this schedule. Follow-up care is essential to excellent dental care. It allows us to catch evolving problems early, if they exist.
So, see your dentist at least twice a year (and more frequently if it is recommended to you), and consider the above information as part of your overall dental education.
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Contact Dr. Edward Shukovsky
For more information about TMJ treatment with BOTOX® injections, please contact Dr. Edward Shukovsky to schedule a one-on-one consultation at our Stamford cosmetic dentistry practice.