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Treating TMJ Disorders with Botox

Treating TMJ with BotoxWhen you are eating, your jaw tends to make clicking sounds as you chew. On occasion, your jaw may even feel like its stuck or locked open. When this happens, the place where your jaw connects with your skull is tender and sore. All these occurrences can be signs of TMJ disorders.

Your dentist can determine if the problems you’re having are associated with TMJ disorders. Once you are diagnosed, your dentist will go over all the options available to help ease your symptoms. One of the newest treatments for treating TMJ disorders is Botox. This is the same treatment that has been used to treat facial lines, wrinkles, and Crows feet.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, the temporal bones. These temporal bones are located in front of each ear. The temporomandibular joint makes it possible for you to open and close your mouth. This helps you perform movements with your mouth like bite, chew, talk, and sing.

Temporomandibular joint disorders, TMJ disorders or TMD, is when there is a problem with the muscles in your face that control your jaw.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders can include pain in not only the jaw but also face, shoulders, neck, and ears. Two common symptoms of TMJ disorder include clicking, popping, or grinding sounds in your jaw when you open and close your mouth and your jaw locking or getting stuck open or closed. Other symptoms include toothaches, migraine-like headaches, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), swelling of the side of the face, and tenderness of the jaw muscles.

Possible Causes of TMJ Disorders

The cause of TMJ disorder is unknown but is believed to be due to an injury to your jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles in your head or neck. Injuries such as whiplash, or a blow to your neck, head, or jaw can lead to TMJ disorders. Grinding and clenching your teeth for prolonged periods of time such as at night, a condition called Bruxism, may also cause TMJ disorders. Other conditions include tension in your face and neck due to stress and arthritis of the temporomandibular joint.

What is Botox?

Botox is a neurotoxin protein. It’s derived from a toxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum. This is the same toxin found in foods that can cause botulism. According to an article in Medical News Today, the original organism that us used to  creatte Botox is generally inactive and non-toxic. It’s found naturally in our environment, like in our soil, lakes, and forests. It can also be found in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish and the gills and organs of crabs and other shellfish. It becomes toxic when it changes into vegetative cells and the cells multiply.

The drug Botox generally uses only small amounts of the toxic bacteria. It works to reduce pain, and stiffness in muscles and joints by paralyzing or weakening the muscles, or blocking nerves.

How is Botox Used in the Treatment of TMJ?

Although Botox has been approved to treat many other disorders, the FDA has not yet approved it for TMJ disorders. According to Healthline newsletter, small scale studies that used Botox to treat TMJ disorders showed decreased pain and increased temporomandibular joint movement in patients that didn’t respond well to other treatments. The use of Botox as an off-label drug, one not approved yet by the FDA for treatment of a disorder it’s being used for, is becoming a common practice due to the positive results found in the various studies.

Botox treatments are a non-surgical, outpatient procedure performed by your dentist. Each treatment can take about 5 to 10 minutes or longer, depending on your specific needs. For your convenience, the procedure can be done after your routine dental cleaning.

Botox treatments for TMJ disorder include several injections that may be given to you over several months. Your dentist may place the injections in your chewing muscles, the masseter and the temporalis. The injections may also be given to you in your forehead, temple, jaw muscle, or other facial areas. Results from Botox injections may take several days to feel.

If you are experiencing symptoms you think might be TMJ disorder, make an appointment with a professional dentist office, such as Kirkland Family Dentistry in Kirkland Washington. Our dentists can determine if Botox is a viable treatment option for your TMJ disorder.

Dr. Benjamin Greene

Dr. Benjamin Greene

Dr. Greene has been providing high-quality dental care to Kirkland residents for over 25 years. The Kirkland area is Dr. Greene’s home. He grew up in Bellevue and graduated from the University of Washington before attending dental school in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his D.D.S. at Case Western Reserve University and then returned to practice dentistry in Kirkland, where he has become part of the community.
Dr. Benjamin Greene
Dr. Benjamin Greene

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