TMJ Treatment: Botox® for TMJ and Jaw Tension
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. It is the joint where the jaw hinges on the temporal bone.
However, when people say “TMJ,” they are often referring to pain or discomfort they are feeling anywhere along the jaw, which may also include some neck muscles. But a more accurate term for the condition is actually “TMD,” or TMJ disorder.
Botox® is used as an alternative treatment for TMJ disorders and associated jaw tension and pain. It may help treat the following TMJ disorder symptoms:
- jaw tension
- headaches due to teeth grinding
- lockjaw in cases of severe stress
What is Botox treatment for TMJ and jaw treatment?
Botox® is a neurotoxin protein that may help treat symptoms of TMJ disorders. You may benefit most from this treatment if other methods haven’t worked for you.
This alternative treatment for TMJ disorders and jaw tension is usually quick, straightforward, and effective.
Botox® is injected into your facial muscles. This may provide immediate relief from TMJ disorder symptoms of pain and jaw tension. The injections can also be effective in eliminating headaches caused by teeth grinding and can minimize lock jaw.
Most patients experience noticeable improvement within one or two days of their first treatment, although relief can take up to a week.
How does Botox® work as treatment for TMJ and jaw tension?
Botox® injections are non-surgical and can be administered in your doctor’s office. There’s no need to stay at a hospital.
The length of time of the procedure will depend on the number of injections you will need as determined by your doctor. But the whole procedure usually just takes about 10 to 30 minutes.
Your doctor will inject Botox® into your facial muscles. They may also inject into other areas depending on your symptoms. You doctor will decide how many injections you need. Swelling and bruising have occurred at the injection site for very few patients. But most patients don’t experience visible marks.
When injected into your facial muscles, Botox causes a partial paralysis to those muscles. It relaxes the muscles involved and relieves pain.
Botox injection treatments must be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
Is the Botox® treatment painful?
Pain due to the injections itself is associated with Botox® treatment for TMJ disorders. But it is generally minimal and doesn’t last. Some patients describe the feeling at the injection site like that of a “bug bite” or a “prick.” Ice packs or anesthetic creams are recommended at the injection site to help relieve the pain.
What are the areas affected by Botox® injections?
The muscles that were injected with the toxin will be affected. No other body part will be affected.
The injections might be in the temporalis, frontalis, and/or masseter muscles. However, additional sites may be injected as well depending on what your symptoms are, and the severity of those symptoms.
How long is the recovery after a Botox® procedure?
Seek your doctor’s advice regarding your physical activities after the procedure.
Botox® treatment for TMJ disorders is non-invasive, non-surgical, that doesn’t require a hospital stay. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately.
It is recommended that you do not massage or rub the injection sites to prevent the toxin from spreading. Your doctor might also ask you to remain in an upright position and limit your physical activities for a specific period of time.
What should you expect after your Botox procedure?
Relief from muscle tenderness will begin within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.
You may continue to see wrinkles diminish up to one week after the Botox® treatment procedure. Although there are a small number of patients who had the treatment who reported no noticeable difference in the reduction of their wrinkles.
There may be mild and temporary bruising, numbness, or redness around the injection sites.
What are the side effects of Botox® treatment for TMJ disorders?
Botox® injections have shown to be a relatively safe and effective treatment for TMJ disorders. Having said that, like any medical procedure, there are risks and side effects from a Botox® injection. However, because this is a non-invasive procedure, complications are infrequent, minimal, and likely temporary.
The most common reported side effects of Botox® injections as treatment for TMJ disorders include the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Respiratory infection
- Temporary drooping of the eye-lid
According to an evidence-based review, Botox® can cause a “fixed” smile that could last six to eight weeks. The paralyzing effect of the toxin on muscles causes this side effect.
Other reported minor side effects generally appear within the first week of treatment. These include pain, redness, and bruising at the injection site and muscle weakness.
The lips are engaged more in everyday activities such as chewing, talking, and kissing. Because of that, Botox® injections around the mouth can potentially have more inconvenient effects. It will gradually become difficult to perform these everyday activities of chewing, talking, and kissing. Also, too much of the toxin in Botox® around the mouth can result in drooling.
Limitations of Botox® Treatment
It is important to note that Botox® treatment for TMJ is not a permanent solution. Although it can provide immediate relief, the toxin wears off over time. If you always resort to these injections, there is a possibility of developing antibodies that would render the TMJ treatments less and less effective each time you take the injections. In other words, a resistance develops.
This resistance could be delayed by using the lowest effective dose possible over the longest intervals of time.
Is Botox® for TMJ covered by insurance?
This treatment may be effective in providing relief for some TMJ disorder sufferers. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Botox® for use as treatment in TMJ disorders.
Call your insurance provider to find out if they cover TMD treatments, including Botox® injections. Unfortunately, they will most likely not cover the treatment because FDA hasn’t approved Botox® for this use. But it’s worth asking just in case.
The cost of this treatment will depend on the number of injections needed, which your doctor will determine upon examination. Also, different geographic locations will have different pricing for the same treatment.
Other Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders
Botox® injections aren’t the only treatment for TMJ disorders. Some people might not be willing to take the risks that come with these injections.
If you’re also hesitant about Botox® injections, there are other surgical and nonsurgical options that can ease your symptoms.
Traditional and alternative treatments for TMJ you might want to try first include the following:
- Relaxation techniques
- Physical Therapy
- Muscle Relaxants
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
- Oral splints or mouth guards
- Open-joint surgery to repair or replace the joint
- Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery that uses a scope and small instruments to treat TMJ disorders
- Arthrocentesis, a minimally invasive procedure that helps remove debris and inflammatory byproducts
- Surgery on the mandible to treat pain and lockjaw
About Dr. Sean Pierce, DDS – Dentist & Oral Surgeon
“Dr. Pierce is not just an expert in general and cosmetic dentistry; he also specializes in oral surgery, TMJ treatment and implant placement and restoration. He has undergone advanced training in oral surgery and dental implants at UCLA and has published his research on TMJ disorders and treatment multiple times in research journals. When Dr. Pierce is not restoring smiles, he prefers to relax by running, enjoying a game of golf, hanging at the beach or cheering his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.”
We can help you. Call our office today at 949-379-6511 and our team will be happy to answer your questions regarding treatment for TMJ disorders.
Our team is experienced and delivers services with a smile. It is important to us that you are at ease, that we understand your concerns, and that you are fully prepared to receive treatment.
Pierce Aesthetics combines a phenomenal dental team with the power of cutting-edge dental technology in the service of your oral health.
Our clinic has state-of-the-art dental technical equipment to provide the best present-day treatment in dental services.